Evan Hierholzer, Managing Editor
Within the next few months, the appearance of the University of Dallas will change significantly as a result of a campus beautification project launched by President Thomas Keefe. The UD campus, which has been named one of America’s “least beautiful” campuses by the Princeton Review, will soon undergo concerted efforts to make its grounds more aesthetically appealing. Additionally, the administration hopes to capitalize on the beauty that the campus already possesses in its trees and hilltop location.
“Probably the biggest thing people will see when they get back is that Madonna Pond is empty,” said John Plotts, vice president of enrollment and student affairs.
According to Plotts, the pond, which lies next to Madonna Hall, is currently being dredged in preparation for the construction of a fountain funded by a donor.
Additionally, a plan for an extensive footpath is in place.
“There is going to be a bridged walkway over Madonna Pond that goes all the way up to the main part of campus,” Plotts said. The path – to be called Vilfordi Way in honor of Gene Vilfordi, a long-standing supporter and leader within the University of Dallas community – will connect one end of campus to the other and unite the campus with the nearby Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) station.
According to Plotts, Vilfordi Way and the associated changes to Madonna Pond “[are] all part of a larger campus beautification program that the president is initiating.”
“What [the president] is trying to do is create an aura from the outside that makes us look more like a university,” said Plotts.
One of the first stages of the beautification process will be to develop the university’s entrances, which provide the observer with his first view and first impression of the university as a whole. Signs, flagpoles and gardens all constitute part of the additions that will be made to various university entrances, including those on Tom Braniff Drive and Northgate Drive.
Another important change to the campus is the naming of the New Hall. The largest residential hall on campus is now officially “West Hall.” According to Plotts, the new name refers not to a donor name, but to the hall’s location on the west side of campus.
“The president said, ‘after three years we can’t keep calling it the New Hall,’” said Plotts. Though “West Hall” is an official name, it is not
necessarily a permanent one. Once funds are received from a donor, the hall will again become subject to renaming.