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t its May 2010 meeting, Mount
Allison's Board of Regents
confirmed that the next major
building project would be a Fine and
Performing Arts Centre. With the
confirmation, preparations began for
an exciting project that reflects the
University's long-standing commit-
ment to fine arts and drama.
Last fall the Board authorized expen-
ditures for the development of archi-
tectural drawings. This step required
a decision on whether an existing
structure (the former University
Centre -- known prior to 1970 as the
Memorial Library) could be used to
house the new Fine and Performing
Arts Centre. Based on expert advice,
we estimated that retaining the exist-
ing structure would add an estimated
$5 million to the project's cost. The
Board therefore accepted the recom-
mendation that architects prepare
drawings and plans that did not
include the entire structure, but
retained features of it.
This decision has naturally generated
some concern. However, after going
through a careful process of evalua-
tion, we believe that this is the best
possible solution for Mount Allison.
This letter is meant to share the
University's perspective with you.
As you know, Mount Allison enjoys
one of the most beautiful and distin-
guished campuses in Canada and it is
one that has evolved over the years.
Balancing fiscal restraint while pro-
viding state-of-the-art facilities in
older buildings is not easy, but a tour
of the University's campus will
demonstrate that it is a commitment
we have made, particularly over the
past two decades.
The University has an established
record of sensitivity with regard to its
facilities, historical or otherwise. Each
year the University spends a signifi-
cant amount of money on their
upkeep and improvement ($19 mil-
lion over the past two years). Recently,
the Wallace McCain Student Centre,
Colville House, and Bennett Building
have all been restored and major
restorations are currently underway or
recently completed at the Owens Art
Gallery, Canada's oldest university
gallery; the 120-year-old "Anchorage;"
and the historic Queen Anne Revival-
style "Black House."
However, in the case of the former
University Centre building, a thor-
ough assessment by experts engaged
by the University deemed that incor-
porating it into the new Centre
would be neither sensible nor sus-
tainable. We were advised that there
are structural issues with the main
supporting beams, a lack of head-
room for fine and performing arts
requirements, and mechanical and
electrical systems that would need to
be completely replaced.
At an estimated $30-million cost, the
project will require $20 million in
private donations and $10 million
from the University's operating
budget. The extra $5 million to retain
the existing building would mean
long-term debt that would result in
tuition increases for students or a
reduction in services. Some have sug-
gested that this extra could easily be
raised, but experience tells us that this
would be unrealistic, especially as we
near the end of a major fund raising
campaign where our most ardent
supporters have already made finan-
cial commitments.
Some have questioned the design
of the new building. The University's
approach has always been to mix the
best features of Mount Allison's past
with the new and innovative, in an
intimate, high-quality environment.
From campus to curriculum, facili-
ties to programming, and students to
professors, this approach has proven
beneficial and will do so again with
the Fine and Performing Arts Centre.
When the designs are ready, features
of the old building will be evident
and the building will fit the campus
We expect to have preliminary draw-
ings of the new Centre later in the
year and look forward to your feed-
back when they are available.
Gloria D. Jollymore
University Advancement
36 | WINTER 2011
An Open Letter to Mount Allison
Alumni and Friends