College endowment in ‘great shape’ as construction on campus progresses


Construction on projects like the Acopian Engineering Center and Markle Parking Deck is on track. (Photo by Caroline Burns’ 22 for The Lafayette)

By Gilad Evans, Contributing Writer

Despite a challenging investment environment, the financial health of the college remains “robust” and is supported by its endowment, according to Associate Vice President for Finance and Business Craig Becker.

“Month to month and year to year performance, we believe in the long run, will generate adequate returns supporting the drawdowns that comprise a significant part of the College’s operating budget,” Becker wrote in an email. “We believe these returns can be achieved through the portfolio’s diversified strategic allocation across various asset classes.”

Construction on campus has progressed according to plan as well. 

The work on the foundation of the Markle Parking Deck is on track for reopening in time for the fall semester—and tailgating, Becker wrote. The Markle Welcome Center is proceeding well, although Becker wrote that some problems were uncovered due to the age of the building; Markle was built in 1928. 

The Portlock Black Cultural Center is expected to be ready for occupancy by August.

“Exterior curbs and sidewalks have been poured and porch construction is underway. Window delivery–long held up by supply chain woes–is anticipated for the end of April. The balance of the interior work can then be finished,” Becker wrote. 

Renovations for Kunkel Hall, which will be the new home for the economics department starting in fall 2024, “will continue through the spring with anticipation of demolition and construction beginning over the summer.”

Additions to the fifth floor of Acopian Engineering Center are likewise on schedule to be completed by the fall semester. 

Going forward, Becker said, the college will continue to look toward new housing.

“The College will be moving forward with a new housing project–McCartney 2–which will provide additional upper classmen beds and new retail space for College Hill. The master planning process will address the preferred locations for wellness and counseling, career services, among other facility needs, including Metzgar Fields and sustainability,” Becker wrote.

Regarding the re-opening of Simons’s Cafe, Becker noted that many options are being considered, with the exception of franchising. “We are looking at reopening Simons in the fall with a new look, we are considering several options; much more to come as our plans evolve,” he wrote. 

Amid the numerous ongoing projects, Becker wrote that the administration is taking steps to coordinate construction going forward. 

“We are initiating a campus master facility planning process that will help guide construction projects over the next decade,” he wrote. 

This development comes as President Hurd enters her 10th month on campus and shapes the college’s direction, something that will evolve as Hurd talks with stakeholders, Becker wrote.

“As can be expected with new leadership, an institution’s priorities, strategies, and future direction will change. President Hurd’s ‘listening tour’ continues, she is beginning to visualize a path forward,” he wrote. “President Hurd is discussing the College’s ‘infrastructure of opportunity’ seeking to improve operational efficiencies and effectiveness, organizational capabilities, and accountabilities.”

With so many ongoing projects, Becker reiterated his office’s focus.

“Everything we do is focused on providing the best student experience. That’s why we are here,” he wrote.