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A look ahead to fall 2013

This coming fall, Oles can expect to see more than a few changes around campus, ranging from updates to school policy and administration to changes in buildings.

Perhaps one of the biggest changes will be the expansion of the Cage, which will include 70 new tables, better lighting and more electrical outlets. Renovations for the Cage involve shuffling office spaces in Buntrock, including the already relocated Buntrock information desk. These changes will take place this summer, but students will be able to stay on top of the renovations through the St. Olaf Web page.

Fall semester will also see the near-elimination of bottled water on campus, a move that will be implemented slowly over the summer.

After a referendum brought about by the group Take Back the Tap passed last year with 86 percent of participating students supporting the idea, St. Olaf and Bon Appétit sought to collaborate with the group to find options concerning bottled water that balanced institutional necessities while honoring the student vote.

In an email to students on April 25, Vice President Greg Kneser outlined the changes that will take effect by the fall semester. St. Olaf will eliminate bottled water from vending machines and the bag lunch line and will install water dispensers in bathrooms of residence halls and academic buildings.

After undergoing extensive renovations this fall, the Flaten Art Barn will reopen its doors. The new building, the brainchild of former St. Olaf professor and art department founder Arnold Flaten ’22, has been painstakingly recreated from the dimensions of the original Art Barn over the past five years.

“The timber frame for the building was built five years ago, and we only just now got around to putting it together,” Kneser said. “It will be used for classes, meetings and events and will eventually have an outdoor space as well. It’s going to be really cool – it’s a beautiful space.”

Additionally, Hilleboe Hall will become the first ‘green’ dorm on campus, housing students who will have their rooms Green Room Certified and will participate in environmental sustainability-related learning.

“Jim Farrell, Professor in History and Environmental Studies, approached me five to seven years ago about connecting housing and environmental issues,” said Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life Pamela McDowell, adding that recent funding has made the project possible for the 2013-2014 academic year.

McDowell said that there was significant interest in the new green dorm, as 60 percent of the rooms were filled at room draw, and now they are almost 100 percent filled.

Fall will also usher in the class of 2017. Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jeffrey McLaughlin said that there is no need for current Oles to be concerned that the incoming class will have a record enrollment as in past years.

“We are currently projecting about 750 new first-year students,” McLaughlin said. This number is significantly smaller than the current first-year class of 865 students. The incoming class will only be 42 percent male but boasts record enrollments of both international students and U.S. citizens who define themselves as multicultural.

“Our overall selection process was carefully focused to ensure that we did not enroll a class as big as our current first-year class,” McLaughlin said. “The increase in applicants, combined with our desire to have a smaller class, meant that we were more selective.”

McDowell said that she is not worried about finding housing for the new class, which has been a problem in past years. First years will be housed in Ellingson, Hoyme, Kildahl and Kittelsby, and McDowell does not believe any floors of Mohn will be used for first-years.

Another big change that students perhaps may not be aware of is the retirement of college treasurer Alan Norton.

“He’s the person that has been really consistent in making sure that finances work,” Kneser said. “He’s terrific. It’s a very big deal to the college [that he is retiring], and the search is on to replace him.”

The fall of 2013 will undoubtedly be ushered in with a bang, thanks to all of the exciting changes, both visible and beneath the surface, happening on campus.