Science building, diversity center focus of State of the College address

Franklin College President Thomas Minar estimates the college needs to raise “several million” more in funds to make the science building project a reality.

He also plans to convert the Quiet Study Lounge, currently on the second floor of the Napolitan Student Center, into a diversity center.

These updates come from Minar’s second State of the College address.

As he reflected on the promises he made and the successes achieved over the last year, Minar highlighted several of the year’s achievements from departments across campus in his address Tuesday.

“A year ago, I promised you that we would find our way, and that we would be strong,” he said in his address. “I told you we would be a destination college that attracts students who choose Franklin for Franklin, for our distinction and educational opportunities. I told you we would be an institution that places opportunity for students, who might not have it elsewhere, above other values. And I told you that we would be a college that honors difference.”

Minar reassured faculty, staff and students that advancements were made in each of those concepts and introduced five major areas where innovation will help move the college forward: enrollment, diversity, the science center, marketing and brand development and the first goal of a strategic plan.

• Enrollment

• Diversity

• Science center

• Marketing and brand development

• First goal of strategic plan

As reported in the Sept. 16 issue of The Franklin, enrollment numbers were lower than usual this year.

An estimate by Vice President of Enrollment Kate Coffman put enrollment 25 students below the 300-student goal.

But Minar said the enrollment problem was identified early on, and he’s on his way to correcting it.

“While the class is smaller than we hoped, the academic quality of the class was stronger than in past enrollment classes,” Minar said. “Our pipeline is not big enough. We identified why, and we addressed it. The pipeline for 2017 is bigger.”

Minar said the college will spend the next several years stabilizing the college, growing enrollment and shaping the student body to have a variety of academic and diverse backgrounds.

And with multicultural student applications nearly twice the amount they were at this time last year, Minar announced the implementation of the new diversity center, set to open in January 2017.

But the talk of campus surrounds the renovation of Barnes Hall, a multi-million-dollar project set to begin in June 2017.

Minar’s comments on the project come after biology professor Steve Browder said the project has been “scaled back” from its original $25 million fundraising goal.

Franklin officials said an original rendering of the project, which The Franklin highlighted in its Oct. 28 issue, was no longer an accurate depiction of what the expansion will look like.

However, they said they’re not prepared to share a new drawing, and in his address, Minar did not share the exact dollar amount the college needs to fund the project.

The new building will feature new study spaces and additional updated classrooms, as described in the Oct. 28 article.

“The facility, coupled with our ‘learning science by doing science’ curriculum, will engage students in project-based learning, cross-functional collaboration and research opportunities as early as freshman year,” Minar said.

Minar said this “phenomenal change” to the campus will change not only science education, but “all that we do.”

New marketing and branding techniques were also introduced at Tuesday’s address, as well as the implementation of SPARC, which stands for Strategic Planning Around Reorganizing the Curriculum.

The SPARC task force, which is made up of 11 faculty and staff members appointed by Minar, is in charge developing a model of teaching and learning for the school’s curriculum.

Minar said the work done by these SPARC initiatives will set the stage for the next 25 to 35 years of the college.

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About Shelby Mullis 29 Articles

Shelby Mullis is the news editor for The Franklin. She has held various positions in multimedia journalism, most recently serving as a reporter at The Republic in Columbus during Summer 2017. Shelby is also a reporter for, Franklin College’s Indiana Statehouse news bureau, and was recently hired as a feature writer for the Franklin College Marketing and Communications Department.

This is Shelby’s second year in a leadership role and her third year on The Franklin staff. She previously held positions as a staff writer, assistant news editor and copy chief.

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