Presidential Forum

PresidentsForum.jpgIndeed, for the third year in a row, the college presidents had coffee and cookies with the downtown stakeholders.

Carleton President Rob Oden started things off by telling folks that there were a number of towns in Minnesota that wanted the college to locate in their community. It is his belief that the founders chose Northfield because of the town’s characteristic of citizen engagement.

Oden again reaffirmed the competitive leverage that Northfield’s sense of place continues to give to the college. It was the quality of life that recently helped the college win a global competition for a scarce Arabist.

He then moved to the theme for collaboration: sustainability. Carleton is installing 10 solar panels around the campus, built over the bike shelters. When added to the existing windmill, these panels will help Carleton generate about 50% of its energy needs.

I wonder if we could create a bike shelter downtown, perhaps with public restrooms as part of the structure, with the lights powered by a solar panel.

St. Olaf President David Anderson continued with the theme of sustainability. The recent hailstorm damaged all of the college’s slate roofs and the repair work is viewed as an opportunity for increased energy savings.

It will be interesting to see if the college learns some tricks for improving the energy efficiency of historic buildings.

Both presidents discussed their current big building projects. Carleton continues to move forward on the planning and design of the Old Middle School/Carleton Arts Center/Collabatory, while St. Olaf makes steady progress toward completing their impressive new Science Center.

When asked about bringing the college students and downtown stakeholders together, Oden suggested that there would be an opportunity for powerful cultural synergy between the Carleton Collabatory, the Carnegie Library and the Historic Grand, and Anderson said that students were always hungry for multi-generational activities.

The NDDC is certainly eager to support collaborative efforts to create such a downtown cultural district that appeals to people of all ages and serves all parts of the community.

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