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Campus Expansion

Susanna Huang ‘27

Apr 12, 2024

With the commission of Mercersburg’s Campus Master Plan, Mercersburg Academy aims to refurbish buildings on campus and construct one STEM building and a new dormitory. Head of School Quentin McDowell explained, “The goal is that our facilities can always support our programs; that is a very critical part of any planning process. We have identified several areas paying attention to our academic spaces, making sure we expand our academic spaces enough to house the programs we want to deliver.”

One of the first anticipated renovations will be Ford Dining Hall. “It is a high priority for the school,” Julie Maurer, Associate Head of School for School Life, stated. “There will probably be some visual and spatial changes to the patio,” said Jennifer Craig, Associate Head of School. 

In addition to the dining hall, students should expect a new STEM building in the near future. McDowell explained, “Education changes very rapidly, and facilities don't change as quickly; as we are thinking of our new facilities and the growth of our campus, its really about making sure it is as flexible as possible so that they are adaptable to the future of education that we are aware and partially unaware of.” 

Currently, Irvine Hall accommodates math, science, languages, and academic departments, so moving some offices out of the building will create more space for innovation and collaboration. “We are at maximum capacity in our classrooms right now, we want to have a more advanced and up-to-date space. We are very cramped for the maker and robotic spaces, and we don't have enough space for these programs to grow like they should,” said Maurer. Thomas Zhu ‘26 said, “We definitely need a building dedicated to the sciences because currently the science facilities are housed in Irvine which limits the capacity a lot.”

With the addition of a new STEM building, more space will open up to reassign in Irvine Hall. Craig explained, “If you look at our square space per student, it is very great, but if you look at the academic space per student, we don't really have enough classroom and creative academic spaces for students to really create, collaborate, study, and bring groups together to work on a project.”

Renovations to academic buildings aren't the only improvements on the docket – changes in the dormitories may also be on the horizon. “We are also being very thoughtful about our the demands on our residence halls in the next 10 or 20 years; we are likely going to build a new dormitory so we can accommodate students while refurbishing the old buildings,” McDowell stated. “I think a new dorm would be a really good idea, especially with the number of girls that are in Fowle Hall right now; there are just a lot of people in one building,” said Stella Johnson ‘25, a prefect in Fowle Hall. Students also suggest inspiring ideas regarding dorm facilities. “Our campus is missing a place for residents to cook, especially for boarding students,” explained Jaidee Promphan ‘25. 

As the school paints a bright future regarding campus expansion, Craig explained, “Fundraising is really at the heart of whether you can build a new building or not.” However, “It is in the near horizon, hopefully in the next 5 years working on at least the dining hall and the science building,” said Maurer. 

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