Goshen College is continuing Westlawn renovations this semester with a new director of facilities at the helm. Brian Mast will be overseeing the project alongside Cynthia Good Kaufmann, director of planning and events, and Ben Bontrager, vice president for operations.Last year, this project was headed by Bontrager and Good Kaufmann, the latter of whom served as interim facilities director.
“When I was in that role, I was called director of everything because I also was director of events,” she said.
Over the summer, the interim facilities director was split into the director of facilities position and the director of planning and events position.
“Now it’s me disentangling myself from what I was doing day-to-day, and [Mast] taking on the role with his own perspective and skillset,” said Good Kaufmann.
In addition to his new role as director of facilities, Mast is also continuing his work as executive director of the Goshen College Music Center and conductor of the Goshen College Symphony Orchestra.
Mast, Bontrager and Good Kaufmann are currently working together on the Westlawn project to finalize plans for construction; they hope that construction will begin in Jan. 2023.
The upper two levels of Westlawn have been cleared of the items in storage and many walls. Mennonite Disaster Services (MDS) volunteers donated time and energy toward the cleaning and demolition process, which began earlier this year.
GC has partnered with MDS because of volunteers that aimed to help the college’s efforts to address nursing shortages.
“The MDS volunteers working in Westlawn have helped us take tremendous strides forward in preparing the space for renovation,” said Bontrager.
Westlawn’s renovations will allow GC to expand the nursing and health sciences programs, thereby helping combat nursing shortages that Elkhart County is experiencing. These shortages date back to before the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“We have a highly successful nursing program… with an amazing faculty group leading the way,” Bontrager said. “However, our program has physical facility constraints that prevent us from substantially increasing enrollment.”
Recognizing GC’s commitments to serve the community, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) provided a federal grant of $4 million to boost the expansion of the nursing program.
The grant was the first federal grant that GC has received dedicated to a construction project and GC’s first federal grant of this size.
The current home of the nursing program is the second floor of Wyse Hall, with a few additional rooms located in the Science Building. The Westlawn renovation project aims to provide 18,000 square feet of space for classrooms, simulation labs, offices, meeting spaces and lounges.
“The new space will triple the amount of [nursing] program square footage,” said Bontrager.
Though the renovation focuses on GC’s nursing program, it also aims to cater to all students on campus.
Good Kauffman said: “It’s not just for nursing students, and the rest of the campus will benefit from the work being done.”
In terms of specifics, Good Kauffman said: “There will be more outdoor seating, an elevator and stairwell. There will be a lounge added, six gender-neutral bathrooms, a lactation room, a two-level study area and new additions of classrooms and meeting spaces.”
Overall, the work being done aims to show progress for Goshen College.
“It’s going to be a bit of a mess for a while with the construction,” said Good Kaufmann. “I hope that people see that even with some of the inconveniences, we’re always progressing, and that’s exciting.”
Bontrager added: “A growing nursing program will help meet nursing staffing shortages in our community and bolster enrollment for Goshen College.”
Goshen College hopes to boost student enrollment with updated facilities in the future.