Many of the recent questions I get as I am in meetings in Terre Haute or simply out in the community deal with Rose-Hulman acquiring the land across the street from campus. With this column, I thought I would try to provide some information about the land acquisition, Rose-Hulman’s potential use of the property and our planning process moving ahead.
Let me try to provide some context or basic information before I start talking about the property. Rose-Hulman officially acquired the land October 31, 2017. The discussions that led to this transaction began with the Hulman Trust almost a year earlier, and turned out to be a relatively complex undertaking given the number of parcels involved and the length of the time over which the Hulman Family had gathered the property. At the end of the day, the amount of property that was transferred to Rose-Hulman was almost 1,150 acres. Interestingly enough, discussions between the Hulman Family and Rose-Hulman about the land had started/stopped a number of times over the past 50 years or so.
First of all, I think that Rose-Hulman acquiring the land shows a commitment by the Institute to Terre Haute – the City in which we were founded almost 150 years ago. An interesting coincidence is that the property we occupy today was acquired from the Hulman Family as well, in 1917. When we purchased the large property across the street, it was the 100th anniversary of the first property acquisition from the Hulman Family.
Many people have asked me what we are going to do with the land. My short answer is: That remains to be determined. We built our first building on our existing site almost a decade after acquiring the property, and I expect we will take the same deliberate approach to the newly acquired property. The Institute will be kicking off a yearlong planning effort beginning in Fall 2018, and I am sure the land will have a prominent place in the discussion. Stay tuned for more details.
However, there is something which has been decided. The large dwelling on the new property will become the President of Rose-Hulman’s residence, placing it on our campus proper. The home is uniquely suited to entertain and even more importantly, suited for use by the campus community for ‘off-site’ meetings, retreats and events. The historic Lodge is being evaluated for similar-type usages, although it is important for us to maintain the historic character of the Lodge as we move forward.
We are in discussions about using some of the property for parking during the Terre Haute Airshow later this year. Hopefully this will allow the land to serve the community, albeit in a small way. In a similar fashion, we are talking with the organizers of the Air Show about using some of the property to advertise the event. Also, the iconic Clabber Girl sign will remain in place. We’re investigating the best ways to preserve and maintain it.
In summary, what I would like to emphasize is that this property offers an endless realm of possibilities to Rose-Hulman and hopefully, the community as well. There are any number of great discussions ongoing about the property, and as some of them become more fleshed out, I will update everyone as appropriate. Thank you for letting me share my thoughts through this exciting new platform!
James C. Conwell, Ph.D., P.E.
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology