by Ann Comer-Woods
New College Board of Trustees Chair Felice Schulaner ’78 and Foundation Chair Sue Jacobson came to campus last Wednesday for the second Chat with the Chairs to share information about New College’s future direction. During the afternoon session in the College Hall Music Room, they discussed plans to raise funds for the renovation of the I.M. Pei dorms and fielded questions about the House bill to merge New College with another state university.
For the Pei dorms restoration, which is estimated to cost about $15 million, New College is commissioning the architecture firm, Hall Darling Design Studio, to study the entire complex and provide a detailed scope of work for the project.
When asked about a possible historical designation for the Pei dorms, Schulaner said, “A historical designation might make [the dorms] look OK, but they may not meet the modern residential needs of our students. It’s not the most practical route for New College.”
Jacobson agreed, “Our first priority is to make it a healthy environment for students and then secondly to honor Pei.”
She then encouraged alumni to give to New College, saying that the amount of each individual gift was not as important as the overall giving participation rate. “We are trying to impress on our alumni the importance of the alumni giving rate. Foundations look at that. The rankings look at that.”
In regards to the university merger discussions in the state legislature, Schulaner said, “President O’Shea has been in Tallahassee meeting with legislators. Our local delegation has been supportive, and there are members of the House Appropriations Committee who support New College [remaining independent].” The Appropriations Committee will vote on Tuesday, February 25 on a bill that proposes to merge both New College and Florida Polytechnic University with the University of Florida.
Noting that the Board of Governors has demonstrated its commitment to New College with the recent growth funding, Schulaner said, “We’re like nothing else in the state system. The cost of a merger would far exceed any cost savings and our national rankings would be impacted.”
Ann Comer-Woods is the director of marketing & communications.