Last night, we had a rather interesting and exciting meeting at Student Senate. The past few weeks, the student body President, Dan, has been arranging for prominent figures on campus to join us for our meeting. The idea is that they would speak for a little while about things that they have been working on and what not and then the floor would be opened for any student senator or student who is attending the meeting to ask questions or contribute their input. So far we have had Tom Mauhs-Pugh, the Dean of Faculty join us, representatives from the Athletics Department, the Vice President of Student Life, Joe Petrick is usually at our meetings every week, and we have plans to host a representative of the Facilities Department, as well as the Vice President of Finance and Administration. Last night the President of the college, Paul Fonteyn joined us. I really believe that having these individuals willing and able to join students for an open Student Senate meeting is something that is very unique to Green Mountain and smaller school.
When Paul began to speak last night, he started off by discussing the new Strategic Plan that the college is presently taking on. This plan has been in the works for a while now, with multiple meetings, conversations, and drafts. This plan is intended to improve the college in many different ways over the next seven years. For a large percent of planning this project, students have been welcomed and encouraged to give their input. Paul began to briefly describe some of the projects that are in the works. These included an increase in available scholarships for students by purposefully seeking out new sources of funding for such, and the hiring of new faculty and keeping the standards high for the type of professors which are hired. He also mentioned some improvements that are being planned, such as improving the science facilities and probably moving them from where they are presently and improving athletic facilities, most notably plans to investigate the possibility of constructing an indoor athletic facility that would be open for all students to use. Paul also discussed plans for a new solar project, which would increase the amount of different types of alternative energy sources which we could take advantage of on campus, but also very important, so we can learn from them.
The project that I am the most excited for, however, is what may be called the Humphrey House. This house (or mansion, really), which was built in 1900, is located just across College Street. I believe that the college has owned this property and structure for a while now, however, the house has been under serious dis-repair and has not been usable. Since Paul became the President he has found a great amount of funding from grant programs such as Vermont state historical programs and large personal gifts in order to repair this building. It will then be used as a sort of community center, one open to both the college community and the greater Poultney community. This is a fantastic idea, as we are always looking for ways to strengthen the relationships between the town and the college. However, this is just the plan for the first floor of the building. Although it may take some additional funding to restore the second floor, Paul plans to open this space up to be leased by non-profit organizations. These organizations would then in agreement to take on a number of GMC students as interns and employees! I think that this is such a great idea! Poultney is a small town and a lot of students here are required to complete an internship (which I think is an incredibly useful requirement), however there may not be as many opportunities in this area as we would like too see. This Humphrey House would bring these opportunities right too us. A lot of GMC students go on to work for non-profit organizations after they graduate, so this is a great way to start. Paul also mentioned that he would like to see this building powered/heated by a geo-thermal source, so another way that students can learn about alternative energy sources.
I am so excited about so many of these new plans for the college. I have enjoyed and appreciated my time here so much and it is very satisfying to hear about how this place is going to continue to get better. I am excited to move on, but hearing about these plans makes me a little bit sad that I won’t be able to see them happen.