Ripon College Announces First Phase of $35M Strategic Infrastructure Plan
Ripon College has announced plans to move forward with a $35 million strategic infrastructure plan which will address the renovation and expansion of Farr Hall of Science, a new on-campus stadium and upgrades to residence halls. The first phase will prioritize a $24.5 million investment in the science center and an $8.5 million investment in the campus stadium, both of which are projected to break ground in the spring of 2023. Planning for upgrades to the residence halls has commenced and the College hopes to finalize plans within the next year.
In February 2022, the Ripon College Board of Trustees authorized the College to begin preliminary exploration on both the science center and stadium. In just eight months, the College has documented $15 million in cash and pledges specifically designated for the infrastructure enhancements, 80% of which is designated for renovation of Farr Hall.
“The primary reason we have been able to move so efficiently on these projects is due in large part to the profound generosity of Ripon College alumni and friends,” says Victoria N. Folse, Ripon College’s 14th president.
Folse inherited the initial and conceptual infrastructure plan from the previous administration but has led the campus through the critical planning phases since her tenure began July 1, 2022. “The energy from the internal and external campus community has been palpable, and my colleagues and I will rely on that energy to continue pursuing our fundraising goals for these critical initiatives,” she says.
Running parallel to leadership gift discussions has been a process led by Vice President and Dean of Faculty John Sisko and Athletic Director Ryan Kane. They have led two separate core planning teams comprising faculty, administrators and staff through the multi-faceted design and build process with The Boldt Company and Kahler Slater architectural firm. Boldt was selected following a competitive RFP process, and Kahler Slater continues its collaboration with Ripon following the successful openings of Willmore Center in 2017 and the Franzen Center for Academic Success in 2019.
“Farr Hall was built in 1961 with a partial renovation in 1997, so a comprehensive renovation and expansion is long overdue to advance our STEM infrastructure,” Sisko says. “However, regardless of the state of the building, Ripon has sustained the sciences as an area of academic excellence on campus. This upgrade will confirm our commitment to Ripon’s strength and reputation in the sciences, while better meeting the STEM learning needs of current and prospective students.”
The 68,500-square-foot renovation and expansion of the science center, scheduled for a fall 2024 opening, will boast more than 19,000 square feet of new construction, with innovative laboratory, classroom and collaboration spaces throughout.
The program and infrastructure design has been informed by Kahler Slater and the Farr Hall/Science Programs Faculty Task Force Report on expanding learning and program areas at the College. “With this project we are renovating and expanding a building, but we also are examining new curricula and programs with the aim of renovating and expanding science education at Ripon College,” Sisko says.
New construction of a 157,000-square-foot on-campus stadium will supplement the student-athlete experience at Ripon College as well as greatly enhance the vibrancy of campus life at an institution committed to providing a dynamic residential living and learning environment.
Thoughtfully positioned on the underutilized lower Sadoff field between Willmore Center and the residence halls, the mixed-use space will house the Ripon College football and men’s and women’s soccer teams, as well as serve the entirety of the student body and Ripon community through potential intramural offerings, concerts and other student life programming.
The new construction will feature a 2,000-seat grandstand and press box, a formal entrance on the corner of Thorne and Union streets, viewing opportunities on Sadoff Hill, lighting for evening programming and a branded game-day experience.
“Ripon College is the only school in the Midwest Conference without its own campus stadium,” says Ryan Kane, athletic director and head men’s basketball coach. “There is no doubt in my mind that this project will be a gathering space not only for our student-athletes but also for our students, faculty, staff and community members at large.”
After the stadium opens, which is currently projected for the fall of 2023, the College no longer will utilize the shared field model with the Ripon Area School District (RASD); however discussions are ongoing to continue shared services between the Ingalls Field outdoor track and the indoor track at Ripon College’s Willmore Center.
“While we have enjoyed a healthy and long-standing relationship with RASD, which we plan to continue, both sides understand the benefits of autonomous stadiums given scheduling and logistical challenges that we have faced in recent years,” Kane elaborates.
The strategic infrastructure plan will serve as one element of a formal strategic planning process that has just commenced at Ripon College under President Folse’s leadership.
“We know how critical and tangible investments in infrastructure are to continue to drive admissions and enrollment; however, the long-term sustainability of the College will continue to depend on growing our endowment, prioritizing innovative academic programming and ensuring that our student population is retained through a unique residential and academic experience,” Folse says. “All of those elements, including developed plans for residence life, will play a leading role in the new strategic plan which we plan to communicate and implement in April 2023.”
For more information about Ripon College’s strategic infrastructure plan and to see renderings of the new buildings please visit ripon.edu/infrastructure/.
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