By Patricia Brennan
Over the past decade, the University of Dallas has made great strides toward beautifying its campus. Once named one of the ugliest campuses by the Princeton Review, the university board has made it a goal to turn that distinction around, and someday see it named one of the prettiest campuses. On Tuesday, March 24, President Thomas Keefe unveiled the second phase of the campus beautification process, which will entail tearing down every building on campus, excluding only Carpenter Hall, the Church of the Incarnation, the Art Village and the as-yet-unfinished Satish and Yasmin Gupta College of Business. Although the fate of the Art Village was fiercely debated, in the end, the demolition crew that was pushing for its destruction decided it would be faster to let the Irving earthquakes do the job.
Over the next few years, students can expect to see major changes made to the campus as buildings are torn down one by one. According to Keefe, the process will begin with the demolition of West Hall. Though the building is the newest on campus, students and administration agree that the stark difference between the former “New Hall” and the other drab-colored buildings scattered around the university contributes to the “ugly campus syndrome.” Students currently living in West Hall will be displaced to Tower Village (“Old Mill”) until the process is complete.
Plans are also underway to renovate Old Mill into dormitories for all students, to give them easier access to PDK and weekend parties. The university will be constructing a bridge between Old Mill and campus.
“You know, a lot of people say the university’s bridges are useless,” a senior was overheard saying to his friend at TGIT, beer in hand. “But I think it’s symbolic or something. Bridges are symbols, right? UD would be the place that makes useless architecture to symbolize something.”
That sentiment seems to be the general consensus of the student body in regard to this second phase of campus beautification.
“I just don’t understand why we’re tearing so many things down, and well, not really leaving anything. I mean the buildings that need to be torn down are staying, and the College of Business building isn’t even finished yet. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me,” a confused junior admitted.
The university’s building committee released the following official statement:
“The University of Dallas is a culture of independent thinkers, and we wanted a campus that reflected our unique character in a beautiful way. Any campus can be bested by the unpredictable nature of Texas weather. Any campus can look like a postcard for a New England college (please see SMU). The University of Dallas, however, deserves a campus as independent as the students that make up its student body. Making Carpenter Hall and the Satish and Yasmin Gupta College of Business our only two academic buildings will unite the humble beginnings and the future aspirations of the university.”
Despite widespread, persistent dislike of the art in the Church of the Incarnation, it will also be left standing. It is a well known fact that no serious discussion pertaining to the removal of any art in the church, much less the destruction of the church itself, can be held in the city of Irving for fear of the wrath of Dr. Lyle Novinski, art professor emeritus. It is believed that a clause relative to this is written into his contract, but this has not yet been confirmed.
As a whole, the student body and faculty members have displayed feelings ranging from confusion to frustration about the campus beautification building plan.
“First, I find out my freshman dorm became a girl’s dorm,” one male sophomore declared angrily. “And then I come back from Rome to find out I don’t even get to live in New Hall! I lived in Greg for a year for this?”
The administration remains adamant about the second phase demolition plans, as it continues to work on the shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe and the construction of the College of Business building. Construction of the so-called “useless” footbridge between PDK and campus will begin shortly. Alongside the current road construction, this is intended to make traffic even worse.
Planning for the third phase of campus beautification is also currently in the works. It will include features such as a sky bridge over campus, more art commissioned by UD faculty members and a whale statue in Braniff, due to the persistence of certain graduating students.