Other College Initiatives Under Examination

Valley News Staff Writer
Sunday, December 03, 2017

Hanover — Beyond a much-discussed study into increasing Dartmouth College’s undergraduate enrollment by up to 25 percent, administrators are considering several other major initiatives that could change the school’s physical footprint and possibly make way for growth.

In a town hall meeting last week, Executive Vice President Rick Mills announced that the college would launch a committee to study the future of the Hanover Country Club, the college-owned golf course north of town, which administrators say has been losing almost $600,000 each of the last few years. 

He later declined to speculate about what the land might be used for should administrators close the course, saying in an email Friday that “until the future of the course is clearer, it would not be appropriate to consider alternate uses.”

Mills also said at the meeting that officials were looking into establishing a public-private partnership to build a new biomass power plant, “essentially funding (the plant) without using our capital.”

Dartmouth’s 119-year-old power plant in the center of town currently burns No. 6 fuel oil, which is incompatible with college plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2025, and 80 percent by 2050.

Officials have said that a new biomass plant would not fit in the footprint of the current fuel oil plant off East Wheelock Street, but where that facility would go — assuming it’s ever commissioned — is still up in the air.

Public-private partnerships also may allow the school to build new graduate student housing, Mills said at the meeting. Graduate students living in college-owned apartments off North Park Street recently were displaced by an unusually large undergraduate first-year class, he noted, and this could help alleviate an existing space crunch.

Speaking to last Wednesday’s audience of about 120 in Spaulding Auditorium, Mills offered a clarification about the proposed dorm project in College Park, a 35-acre forested area east of the Dartmouth Green.

Mills said some observers had expressed concern that excavations in the area indicated that the project was already going ahead — rather than simply being studied — and he clarified that the workers were taking measurements to aid the study committee and not to begin construction.

Mills said the College Park project was a separate idea from the possible enrollment expansion. The potential dorms would serve as swing space to renovate or demolish other aging facilities, he said.