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Mount preparing for growth and bicentennial

James Rada
Emmitsburg Dispatch

(4/19) As Mount Saint Mary’s University gears up for its bicentennial celebration later this year, President Thomas Powell took some time to talk to the Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners on April 2 about the plans for the year-long celebration and other projects the university is planning. He called it his first “state of the university address” to the town.

“We will also be joining only 40 other institutions in the U.S. that have celebrated a bicentennial,” Powell said of the significance of the 200th birthday of the university.

The planning for the celebration that begins in August and continues through October 2008 started two years ago. Besides celebrating a birthday, the university will also be celebrating a number of capital projects and a record-breaking freshman class. The class of 2010 was a record number of 426 students.

“Next year, we’re anticipating 435 freshmen to come into Mount St. Mary’s,” Powell said. The university had 3006 applicants apply for those seats.

The university is in the midst of a $75-million capital campaign. Projects to be funded with the money include a renovation of The Terrace, a Founder’s Plaza, a fine arts building, a visitors’ center for the Grotto, a facelift for Memorial Gym and the geo-thermal-powered Bicentennial Hall dormitory for 180 students.

“It really is amazing to see all the things you’re planning to do,” Commission President Chris Staiger told Powell. Mayor Jim Hoover pointed out that some of the university’s projects have been beneficial for the town such as the connection of the water systems and the trails project.

Powell pointed out during his presentation that, “We are entwined and for the better.”

He promised that the university would be a willing partner with the town in dealing with off-campus problems caused by Mount students. Some of the problems have been caused by the lack of student housing, which forces students into rental units in town. The university is working to correct that with renovations and the construction of Bicentennial Hall.

“Please know that you have a willing partner in helping to solve those problems in a legal and very clear, forceful manner if our students are out-of-hand. We recognize that responsibility,” Powell said.

As for off-campus problems caused by students, he said the university will work with landlords “and if the kids are too noisy, kick them out (of the off-campus housing).”

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