Pierson next in renovation line

Pierson College will be renovated in 2003-04 and Davenport College is slated for the following year, Yale President Richard Levin said.

This year’s budget estimates the cost of the Pierson renovations to be $40 million. Pierson, which will be the fifth college to be renovated, was chosen to be next based on strong donor potential. The project will begin after the current Timothy Dwight College renovations and next year’s improvements of Vanderbilt Hall are completed.

“We looked at the potential funding sources and felt that there were many alumni in Pierson and Davenport that have been supportive of the University,” Vice President of Development Charles Pagnam said. “We felt like we would get a very good response from them.”

Pagnam said he hopes to institute a fund-matching program similar to that used during Saybrook College’s fundraising. Two Saybrook alumni, Holcombe Green ’61 and Joshua Bekenstein ’80, pledged $10 million to their former dormitory to match donations from other sources up to that amount.

The specifics regarding the Pierson renovation will be decided in two weeks at an administrative meeting, Dean of Administrative Affairs John Meeske said.

Meeske said Silliman and Trumbull colleges are in the same group as Pierson and Davenport of the four residential colleges currently in line for renovation. Administrators said the order in which colleges are renovated is now primarily set by donation levels.

Estimates of each college’s renovation cost were calculated several years ago, but so far all have been extreme underestimates and Pierson’s estimate is probably also too low, Meeske said.

Pierson Master Harvey Goldblatt said that a renovation plan has not been designed yet but that he will make student input a part of the process.

In an e-mail he wrote Monday afternoon confirming rumors of the college’s pending renovation, Goldblatt pledged to make the Swing Space year as wonderful as students’ other three.

Still, some Pierson sophomores voiced concerns about having to live in Swing Space for their senior year, saying the announcement came as a surprise.

“It came up really vaguely,” said Lindsey Powell ’04. “We weren’t expecting it.”

The idea of living in Swing Space senior year also did not appeal to Davenport freshman Yaw Anim, despite the improvements renovations will make to the college.

“I don’t want to be selfish or anything, future generations will definitely enjoy that,” Anim said. “But senior year, you really want to spend it in the college.”

The sophomores said they also were upset that they will not experience traditional perks of senior year Pierson housing.

“We have all been looking forward to living in Lower Court [of Pierson], and that will never happen,” said Emily Isaak ’04.

Pagnam said Timothy Dwight has been the most difficult college to raise money for because some wealthy Yale graduates affiliated with the college have already contributed to other priorities on campus.

Berkeley and Branford colleges both raised $23-26 million, and Saybrook raised between $22-23 million, Pagnam said.

All 12 residential colleges will undergo renovations in an expansive plan to improve Yale’s once-crumbling infrastructure. So far, Berkeley, Branford and Saybrook colleges have been completed, and Timothy Dwight currently is under the knife.

A group of sophomores in the Pierson dining hall said they will probably move off-campus during the Swing Space year.

The Pierson community is what Justin Cohen ’04 said he will miss the most.

“The people won’t be the same, which is what really matters,” Cohen said.

Pierson College will be renovated during the 2003-2004 academic year.
Peter vanAgtmael
Pierson College will be renovated during the 2003-2004 academic year.

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