A framework for the future

Jennie Torres

[media-credit id=2120 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]The university-wide strategic plan to renovate the Spruce Bank property was addressed in further detail by Vice President of Facilities and Capital Planning Salvatore Filardi on Wednesday, March 20. Filardi’s explanation brought up the motivation behind the ownership of the property and how this could benefit the student body for years to come.

The university-owned property is located at 305 Spruce Bank Road behind the Hilltop parking lot on the Mount Carmel campus. Filardi explained why the ownership of the property is a part of the university’s strategic plan by introducing the university’s history on attempting to purchase it.

“Most towns have planning and zoning requirements that only allow a certain ratio of building to overall land,” Filardi said. “If you have a hundred-square-foot parcel and it’s 20 percent, you could only build a 20 square foot footprint. The other 80 percent needs to stay open. One of the things that we found over the years is that [the university is] butting right up against that ratio of the town.”

Filardi considers it a positive thing that the university is acquiring new land because it removes the ratio issue, however he says it wasn’t easy to obtain at first.

The objective of gaining the property on Spruce Bank Road began in 1990, when the university was able to get board approval to go up to a certain dollar amount to bid for the property at a real estate auction. However, they didn’t count on being met with a higher bid.

“In the 28 years since, the owner of that property who outbid us that day became friends with the university, has been closely associated with a lot of things,” Filardi said. “If you’re familiar with the ice hockey rink, it’s named the Frank Perotti Jr. Arena. That’s the owner.”

Because of Perotti’s close relationship with the university, by the time he passed away in 2016, the university was given a right of last refusal in his will where it stated that the university was given priority over anyone else who was willing to buy the estate.

[media-credit id=2120 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]“Even though it wasn’t donated to us, it was part of his will that we were given a right to it. So, we ended up buying the property from his children,” Filardi said.

Filardi said that the process of obtaining the estate did not involve Olian, since she was not elected president when the university purchased the property on April 23, 2018.

The property includes the main residence where President Olian will reside, a carriage house, pavilion and a stable. Now with the ownership of this property, the university is hoping that this would allow students to have greater accessibility to Olian as well as allowing Olian greater ability to host more fundraising events to benefit the student body.

Olian expressed her excitement about how this property can be a source of better accommodation for students as far as the developing in education. Her involvement in the strategic plan includes focusing on four pillars, the first one being distinctive programming for 21st century careers. This programming is expected to be involved within the university in the near future.

The second pillar is inclusive excellence where Olian plans to continue encouraging diversity among the campus as far as what types of students study at the university.

The third pillar is about nurturing internal and external community that is planned to bring about more classroom buildings and meeting spaces, career advising that is sensitive to marginalized populations, and building more on health and wellness on campus. The final pillar will incorporate more lifelong learning and connections to alumni.

“One of the things that a strategic plan helps you do is decide what is or isn’t core to where you are heading. The strategic plan enables us to be a bit more mindful,” Olian said.

Olian said that she plans on using the Spruce Bank property as a means to connect to the community within the university and outside of it, ultimately being a resource for current students and alumni to encourage lifelong learning.

“This would be a continuous resource within our senior management team who have provided not just the tangible advice required when you have a real problem, but just internal, informal, preemptive wisdom as part of our team,” Olian said.

“President Judy Olian’s estate” in the sentence “The university-wide strategic plan to renovate President Judy Olian’s estate was addressed in further detail by Vice President of Facilities and Capital Planning Salvatore Filardi on Wednesday, March 20” has been changed to state “the Spruce Bank property.”
The sentence “The property includes a residence and alternative residence building, a stable and a carriage house, also referred to as a pavilion” has been changed to “The property includes the main residence where President Olian will reside, a carriage house, pavilion and a stable.”