City Paper is not for tourists
With classes back in session, Georgetown University is making headlines for resolving, among other measures, to give an admissions edge to prospective students who are descended from slaves who built the school. But also important to the school’s future is the 20-year campus plan formally submitted to the city Thursday, which strives to balance the interests of Georgetown the university with those of Georgetown the neighborhood.
Founded four years ago, the Georgetown Community Partnership was created to serve as a forum for school administrators, students, local civic groups, and neighborhood commissioners who’d sometimes been at odds over the university’s growth. Although the school has existed since 1789—making it the oldest such Catholic institution in the U.S.—neighbors have wanted more dormitories so that fewer undergraduates would move into off-campus housing. They had also sought enrollment caps on the total number of students the school could serve. An agreement was brokered several years ago.
Fast-forward to today, and the group is hailing the comprehensive plan as the result of “a dedicated and collaborative process.” Covering 2017 to 2036, the plan maintains an existing cap on overall enrollment to just over 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students. It also outlines potential new facilities that may include “renovated or modestly expanded” dorms, redeveloped academic and administrative spaces, and even a “vibrant student life corridor.” A multitude of design options featured in the plan would give the school “the required flexibility” in light of the 20-year time frame, administrators say.
“As the Zoning Commission knows so well, five years ago a joint letter like this would have been unthinkable,” partnership co-chairs Ron Lewis and Christopher Augostini write in a memo to District officials. “We believe the Campus Plan properly balances an ambitious long-term plan with built-in flexibility that allows for course corrections as needed.”
Among the schools goals are to enroll additional graduate students under the current cap and, in response to complaints, reduce the number of undergraduates living off-campus. Generally, the latter are required to live on-campus during their first three years, per a 2015 policy.
The university hopes to produce a corridor focused on student life that would run north-south through campus. It would require repurposing the ground floor of a building used by Georgetown’s facilities department and redeveloping the ground floor of a hall into about 40,000 square feet for student use. Such improvements “would help create a more direct pedestrian connection extending north through campus … to Reservoir Road,” the plan explains.
The full plan can be accessed here. The D.C. Zoning Commission is expected to review it in the coming months.