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Hamilton College Trustees Act to Build New Social Space, Reach Agreement to Purchase DKE Fraternity

By Mike Debraggio
Posted December 10, 1998
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The Hamilton College Board of Trustees, meeting on campus Dec. 4-5, authorized funding that will lead to the construction of a new facility for social events and reached agreement to purchase the former Delta Kappa Epsilon chapter house.

The new social space, which is to be built as an expansion of the Beinecke Student Activities Village, will be located in the area between the Fillius Events Barn and The Little Pub. The large, multipurpose facility is intended for dances, dinner parties, social events, concerts and a variety of other activities for groups of up to 600. It is expected to be completed for use in the spring of 2000.

"This new space will be a handsome, functional and enormously positive addition for use by the entire campus community when it is ready for occupancy in about a year from now," said President Eugene Tobin. "It reflects the input of many on campus and is a direct response by the trustees to the requests of students over the past several years."

Trustee Barry Seaman, a 1967 Hamilton graduate and chair of the ad hoc social space committee, said, "The trustees recognize the importance of maintaining an attractive extracurricular program in the context of a rigorous academic program. The decision to move ahead with the social space demonstrates that dual commitment."

The agreement to purchase the Delta Kappa Epsilon chapter house was reached between the college and the fraternity's alumni trustees. As part of the agreement, DKE has agreed to drop its participation in the lawsuit stemming from the college's March 1995 Residential Life decision and will commit a sizable portion of the proceeds from this sale to a scholarship fund in honor of DKE alumni. The agreement must now be ratified by a vote of the full fraternity membership.

"The settlement with DKE is significant not only because it ends an uncomfortable and unproductive standoff with a valued group of Hamilton alumni," Tobin said, "but because it establishes a constructive precedent for settlement with the remaining three fraternities in the lawsuit. We remain optimistic that we will reach similar agreements in the near future with the three fraternities still involved in the lawsuit."

Tobin said the college intends to renovate the chapter house for use as a student residence. A scheduled completion date has not been determined.

"The creation of a new social space and the addition of the DKE chapter house to the pool of existing residential facilities will expand the offerings for students in significant and attractive ways," said Tobin. "When the spring semester begins in 2000, we will have added, in recent years, the Little Pub, a new multipurpose social space for students, and new student residences, including the Farmhouse, the Rogers Estate, Ferguson House, and the Saunders home, among other facilities."

In addition to the decision to move ahead on the construction of a new social space and news about the agreement with the alumni trustees of DKE, the trustees expressed keen interest in a report about the faculty's progress toward curricular reform and voiced their strong support for the process.

Progress toward achieving the $83 million goal for The New Century Campaign, efforts to recruit the Class of 2003 and reaction to the recently renovated Soper Hall of Commons were discussed as well.

Among other significant actions taken by the Board was the authorization to develop and implement a communications plan that will strengthen Hamilton's name recognition and national reputation by communicating more strongly the college's academic strengths to higher education opinion leaders, prospective students, parents, college counselors, alumni and foundations.

Additional discussion centered on potential sites for new and renovated science space, which was considered in the broader context of the college's master facilities plan that is currently being developed. These efforts will intersect in the coming months, with the expectation that a recommendation will be brought from the Science Subcommittee to the full Board in March.

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