St. Mary’s Working in Tandem with HSMC

Margaret Brent Hall will soon be torn down and replaced by the new Interpretive Center. (Photo by Rowan Copley)
Margaret Brent Hall will soon be torn down and replaced by the new Interpretive Center. (Photo by Rowan Copley)

The mass exodus of administrative offices from Anne Arundel Hall and Margaret Brent Hall to Glendening Hall is only one part of a much larger restructuring of South Campus, which promises to connect the college with Historic St. Mary’s City (HSMC) in beneficial new ways.

Glendening Hall, the new home of such administrative offices as Residence Life and International Education, was completed in late fall of last year to reduce the “run-around” necessary to do such things as change housing and add and drop classes, according to Assistant Vice President of Planning and Facilities Chip Jackson. Such administrative offices as Residence Life, Academic Services, International Education, and Financial Aid were moved to Glendening over winter break.

This move, however, left a large part of Anne Arundel Hall, and all of Margaret Brent hall, unused. According to Torre Meringolo, Vice President of the Office of Development, this is just one part of the college’s restructuring plans that go back to 1997 when former Governor Paris Glendening and former Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend decided to affiliate the college and HSMC through state law. In fact, this connection between the college and HSMC goes back much farther, all the way back to the College’s creation as a monument to Maryland’s first capital. Meringolo said this partnership, “Ties back to the reason the institution is even here.”

In order to further foster this relationship, the college and HSMC decided that both organizations could benefit from bringing some HSMC staff and research on-campus, and decided that South campus would be the best place to do this. In order to make this happen, however, the college needed to make room in South campus and rearrange academic departments currently in Anne Arundel and elsewhere.

Glendening and Goodpaster Hall are, in part, a result of this need. According to Jackson, these two buildings are just a part of the much larger plan. Jackson said that in the next few years students will see this restructuring plan further played out through the movement of the Religious Studies and Philosophy departments to Cobb House and the renovation or replacement of Anne Arundel. According to Meringolo, replacement is more likely because it’s more cost-effective.

Regardless of what path the college takes with Anne Arundel, the new Anne Arundel will house both archeologists and interpreters from Historic as well as the college’s Archeology, History, and Language departments. Margaret Brent Hall will also be replaced with a new Interpretive center for HSMC. According to Regina Faden, Executive Director of the HSMC commission, the interpretive center will act as the new starting point for tourists to HSMC, give them an overview and brief history of HSMC’s sights, and display rotating exhibits. Faden said that the interpretive center, “Will help to create a sense of arrival [to the city].” She added, “Right now, people aren’t always sure where the city is.”

According to Meringolo, this move and restructuring will greatly benefit students, especially Archeology, History, and Museum Studies majors. Members of the HSMC commission already teach some classes on Museum Studies, but even more opportunities will open up after the move. Students will get the chance to work along with researchers from HSMC on unlocking the secrets of colonial St. Mary’s City and learn about its history as it’s being discovered. Internship and job opportunities will also open up for those especially passionate in the study of HSMC, and students will be able to work with members of the commission on such projects as constructing the “ghost frames” that currently dot Route 5 and interpreting newly-discovered artifacts. The HSMC commission will also greatly benefit from the move, since they will get more space for their growing artifact collection.

Although on their way, many students will be unable to see the full results of these changes in their time at St. Mary’s. According to Jackson, design of the new Anne Arundel will take place this spring and the building itself won’t be completed until 2012 or 2013. Faden said the HSMC will not move into Anne Arundel and the Interpretive Center until around 2014.

Those in the administration don’t seem too bothered by the wait, and believe that the move will greatly enhance the college in the end. Meringolo’s vision is that “In 100 years St. Mary’s college [will be] recognized as being the pre-eminent undergraduate program in Anthropology in the country, or one of the great Museum studies programs in the country.”

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