The Whitehead Plaza has opened Friday after a year of construction work. However, the construction woes and Brooklyn College continue on.
According to Alan Gilbert, Vice President of Finance and Administration, the last remaining issue with the opening of the plaza was a statue which “[didn’t] fit in with the current décor.”
Construction was supposed to be finished before the end of the summer, but because of window scaffolding and concerns about safety from falling objects, construction continued into the fall semester.
The construction of the plaza at Whitehead has cost about $880,000.
Gilbert said that the window project would “pay dividends during the winter when it’s really cold out,” adding that there “won’t be as many drafts.”
Construction, renovation, and repairs at Brooklyn College have been a source of criticism for a while. Last year, articles centered around the Instagram page ‘Brokelyn College’ which spawned articles in the New York Post as well as TV segments on News 12 and CBS news.
Gilbert said that he is “not a big fan,” of the Instagram page.
“It incites people,” he said. “It’s unrealistic to expect that in a campus this size with fields everywhere, people eating everywhere, that we wouldn’t have a bug every now and then. It’s reality. Or that a toilet won’t break.”
Gilbert said that because of “deferred maintenance” that the college is essentially waiting for something to break in order to fix it, which is necessary—according to him—in order to save costs and meet budgetary funding levels.
“The problem is in an organization that is not fully funded. Especially higher education, whether it is public or private, you hit a point where […] things just go,” said Gilbert, citing the age of some of the buildings on campus. “If we had a billion dollars that would help but then we would also need staff to oversee all the projects.”
Gilbert also said that there were issues with staffing. “My four or five people are running around to four or five projects each,” he said. “And every one of these is very detailed and should require their own personal person from the college to oversee.”
Using the window project at Whitehead as an example, he said that his staff oversaw the project to make sure contractors were abiding by safety guidelines as well as working with professors, staff, and IT people in order to move items out of certain rooms.
Gilbert said that the typical way to hire more people to oversee various construction projects would be to either get more state funding or increase tuition, the latter of which he says is “not a burden that we want our students to deal with.”
“Student learning is the most important priority we have so we invest most of our operating budget into faculty and construction,” said Gilbert. “That’s actually why we’re here.”
Various construction projects planned for the future include building medium sized lecture halls, renovating Ingersoll as a Science building, repairing the heating at Roosevelt Hall, and providing air conditioning for 1310 Ingersoll.
Also planned for the future is renovation of the East Quad’s iconic clock tower.