After a decade of deliberation, construction is finally underway on a new addition to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
The $1 million project, which features a new presentation hall with space for 150 people, will be completed early next year, in time, admissions officials hope, to make a favorable impression on the first major wave of prospective students who visit campus around spring break.
Christoph Guttentag, director of undergraduate admissions, said the construction will provide more space for admissions presentations and make prospective students' visits more similar to those at Ivy League schools.
"Duke is unusual amongst its competitors in asking people to move around," he said. "But the new building will be a significant step forward in terms of our ability to be welcoming to people. "
Provost Peter Lange emphasized that the new building is coming at a crucial time for the University.
The number of prospective applicants visiting campus is increasing every year, which makes students' first impression of Duke more important than ever.
Under the direction of University Architect John Pearce, the addition will boast several improvements that administrators hope will lure more students to apply. It will be located at the back of the existing admissions building, which at one time housed Duke's president, and be built in the same Duke Stone.
The centerpiece of the new 150-seat space will be a large meeting hall that will become the primary presentation space, with movable walls for more intimate interactions between prospective students and admissions personnel. Also included in the plans are several multimedia features that will allow visitors to view slide-show and power-point presentations during admissions sessions.
In post-admissions session surveys, the most consistent complaint from prospective students and their families was a lack of space provided for information sessions and presentations in the current admissions cottage.
"When we arrived at the admissions office after a long walk, we were told that there was not enough room to hold all of us and were asked to move again to another building on West Campus," said freshman Connie Leeper. "We must have moved at least three times before we settled down and heard from an admissions officer."
The construction of the new building will alleviate the problem of space and attempt to keep Duke on par with the other top-flight schools prospective students typically visit.
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"When I visited Harvard, we were quickly ushered to an information session in a comfortable room in the admissions building," said freshman Tom Mendel. "There was plenty of room to move around, and once we were seated, a slide-show of the campus came on immediately. I must admit, it was very well done."