Building for Tomorrow

Like many colleges, U of All People still seems to be putting up facilities even as it is slashing budgets elsewhere. David Galef reports.


January 7, 2011

Despite recent economic indicators, as U of All People President Buck Passer is fond of calling the current recession, building is still proceeding apace on campus. In God’s name, why? Because the funds were earmarked a long time ago; i.e., even though we’re down to our last piece of chalk in the classrooms, we’re going to have a state-of-the-art echo resonance chamber up soon, next to Old Classroom Quarters #3 (the one that makes odd groaning sounds in autumn because of shifts in the adjunct-faculty-operated heating system). As President Passer explained in his three-minute opening address this semester, “Architecture is sexy. Faculty salaries aren’t.” So, for the next five years, or until the moolah runs out, the U of All People campus will be alive with the cheerful roar of electric saws, cement mixers, and nail guns. Here are just a few of the current building projects:

The Tip Tapp School of Dance: named after alumnus George Tapp, whose latest trophy wife, Tip, wanted something more substantial than another house in the Hamptons. This 40,000‑square-foot facility will contain five soundproof rehearsal rooms, a 3,000-seat auditorium with a massive proscenium stage, and even a classroom. Cost: $22 million, $40,000 of which will go to recruit students for the new dance major and hire instructors to teach them.

Institute for Production: originally called the Institute for Melamine Production, or IMP, recently nicknamed “the white elephant.” The blueprint for this low-slung structure of laboratories with high-security access was sidelined after the Chinese melamine scandals and only recently received the go-ahead from President Passer. Now the plan is to renovate the old Chem Building and install truck access in the rear. “I’ve been told the money’s coming from a Hong Kong consortium, and that’s all I know” says head of Engineering Inyure Poquette. “Anyway, it’s safe to say we’ll be working to produce something or other.”

Bland Cafeteria: puzzling, since we already have three cafeterias, a café, a refectory, and two dining halls. But this is what the class of 1985 pooled its donations for: a 24/7 facility so that students pulling all-nighters need never go without munchies. Shaped like a giant pretzel and designed by the ecologically correct Swedish architectural firm ELOF, known for its innovative use of building materials, Bland will have its very walls made of hardened dough. “It is edible, theoretically,” says ELOF CEO Elof Elofsen, “and that is the point, yes?”

Raquette Dormitory for Legacies: designed specifically with future donations in mind, this 20-bed facility will house only those students whose parents pledge $1 million above tuition costs. Features include en-suite swimming pools, a mink-lined jewelry vault, butler services, a secret exit, and BMW transportation to and from classes.

Fromley Facility for Under-Represented Sports. Sack racing, Tiddlywinks, and pole chasing are just three of the sports that will be practiced here. No one knows who Fromley is, but President Passer (UAP ’91) has let it be known that he “practically invented” underwater soccer when he was a sophomore. Fromley will also house UAP’s champion thumb-wrestling team, the only one in the United States.

Dollar Parking Lot: named after Harold Dollar, the transportation mogul whose son lost the use of his second vehicle in a parking-related injury. This multi-level facility, capable of holding three hundred vehicles with convenient access to all campus facilities, was pulled at the last minute in favor of something sexier: the Dollar Raceway, five miles from campus.


David Galef is a professor of English and the creative writing program director at Montclair State University. He also writes dispatches from U of All People for Inside Higher Ed.


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