Board approves next step in planning for new learning commons

The Northwestern College Board of Trustees, meeting on campus Oct. 4-5, authorized the college administration to move forward with the next step in planning for a new learning commons. The board voted to release funds to interview and hire an architectural firm to finalize plans for the project.

The learning commons—recommended by the Library Program Task Force, which met throughout the 2003-04 school year—will house a new library and archives, computing services center, writing center, classrooms, auditorium and coffee shop. A library with state-of-the-art technology, but reflecting tradition in its aesthetic character and form, will be the centerpiece of the commons. Since last April, the college has been working with architects to develop a preliminary blueprint and projected costs for the facility.

“We’re convinced that this is essential to the future of Northwestern and will be a tremendous enhancement to every dimension of the college,” says President Bruce Murphy. “The discussion centered on two questions: Do we really need this facility, and are we willing to do more than we ever have before to get it? The board gave very strong affirmation to both questions.”

Plans call for the college to hire an architectural firm for the learning commons by the end of 2004. The architects would give a report to the board at the April 2005 or October 2005 board meeting.

While discussion of the learning commons project dominated the board meeting, President Murphy said another highlight was a session in which trustees saw the new recruiting DVD and heard reports about the first year of Northwestern’s Lilly Grant project, “Vocare: Find Your Place.” Karen Bohm Barker, professor of theatre and speech; Dr. Michael Kensak, associate professor of English; and seniors Kara Wismer and Shahyan Qureshi presented their perspectives on the impact of the Lilly Grant on the Northwestern experience.

“The creativity, professionalism and theological insight of these presentations deeply impressed the board,” said Murphy.