Wesleyan’s physical campus plays an important role in the distinctive residential liberal arts education it offers students. Facilities planning has been a focus on campus recently, with major upgrades in the works for the academic buildings housing Wesleyan’s art, social science, and science programs.
“Our work on campus involves modernizing, upgrading, and, in some cases, expanding our core academic centers. These facilities will be transformed into spaces where courageous faculty and students can activate their ideas to make a difference in the world,” said President Michael Roth ’78. “We are taking steps now to ensure Wesleyan is a high-impact university for decades to come.”
In early 2020, the University is planning for a $75 million bond issue to enable it to accelerate this work, including construction on the Public Affairs Center (PAC) and planning work for the science facilities. In December, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) credit-rating agency affirmed a AA credit rating for the bond issue, while Moody’s affirmed its Aa3 rating.
“This bond issue will support strategic investment in Wesleyan’s campus, the student experience, and faculty resources,” said Senior Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer and Treasurer Andrew Tanaka ’00. “We continue our focus on fiscal prudence and responsible stewardship of the generous donations made to Wesleyan. Our strong track record in this regard has helped Wesleyan build its capacity to borrow.”
Tanaka noted that by borrowing money at this time, Wesleyan is able to take advantage of a historically low interest rate environment as it pursues strategic investments in campus.
The Public Affairs Center, home of Wesleyan’s social sciences, is slated for a major upgrade in the coming years. Located at the heart of campus, the updated building will be nearly 20% larger and feature a 75% increase in classroom space, as well as a new art gallery space connecting to Olin Library. Classrooms and gathering spaces in the building will be flexible and modern, inspiring interaction among students and faculty across academic disciplines and fostering innovation. Funding from the bond issue will allow construction to begin as early as 2020.
Planning to upgrade Wesleyan’s science facilities, including Shanklin and Hall-Atwater, is in earlier stages, with the University considering multiple options for renovation or replacement. The bond issue will accelerate this planning work.
Wesleyan is also in the midst of a major expansion of the Center for Film Studies, with construction ongoing on a 16,000-square-foot addition, which will include a state-of-the-art production studio, 50-seat screening room, outdoor classroom and filming plaza, and a three-story house to be a dedicated space for on-site film shooting. Construction is expected to wrap up in mid-2020.
The University plans to continue raising funds to support its strategic priorities, as well. While the successful This is Why campaign (which concluded in 2016) focused largely on building the endowment to ensure Wesleyan’s future fiscal stability and support financial aid, “the next decade will be about continuing to build the endowment while also investing in our campus infrastructure to meet the needs of future generations of students,” said Vice President for Advancement Frantz Williams ’99. “We are on a mission to raise significant funds to invest in the future of a Wesleyan education. We are fortunate to have a loyal and generous donor community to help ensure that our campus remains an incubator of creative ideas that have an impact on our students and the world in which they will live.”