The Consecrated Eminence: The Story of the Campus and Buildings of Amherst College

The Consecrated Eminence: The Story of the Campus and Buildings of Amherst College

The Consecrated Eminence: The Story of the Campus and Buildings of Amherst College

The Consecrated Eminence: The Story of the Campus and Buildings of Amherst College

Excerpt

This is a companion study to my History of the Endowment of Amherst College published a year ago. Today the development and maintenance of the plant rank in importance with faculty salaries and scholarships as the three largest items in the college budget. The Amherst plant stands on the treasurer's books at a little less than $7,000,000. The portfolio of investments representing the College's endowment had a book (cost) value on June 30, 1950, of about $15,000,000. The plant, therefore, may be said to represent about one-third of the physical assets of the College.

A college plant is not static. It must be maintained and developed. The wear and tear by succeeding generations of students takes its toll. Deterioration is rapid unless maintenance is carried on year in and year out. At certain times in Amherst's history, maintenance has been radically curtailed because of financial stringency or for other reasons. This has always proved to be shortsighted economy.

The plant must not only be maintained, it must be developed to meet the needs of a college serving a changing society. New fields of learning are developed, new subjects are introduced into the curriculum, and old subjects are so altered in content or in teaching method that new facilities are essential for their proper presentation to students. A single example will suffice. Today the College has four buildings devoted to the laboratory sciences. Their cubic capacity is about one-fifth of that of all our buildings. In its early history the sciences were taught in rooms in the basement of Johnson Chapel.

The development and maintenance of the college plant is the responsibility of the Board of Trustees. It ranks in importance with responsibility for the endowment. As the Board exercises its responsibility for the endowment through its Finance Committee, so it exercises its responsibility for the plant through its Committee on Buildings and Grounds. On the "working level," the college plant is the responsibility of the president, treasurer, and superintendent of buildings and grounds. How much the president himself does in this field depends, of course, on his interests and aptitudes. The Harvard plant, for example, had a notable development during the administration of President Eliot. But since the beginning of President Lowell's adminis-

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