President Christopher E. Hopey met with students on Feb. 25 during his biannual Pizza with the President for a freewheeling conversation about everything from the hiring of an assistant athletic director to campus renovations.
It was standing room-only for the gathering of about 140 students and staff members in the Arcidi Center conference room.
The president started the meeting with a slide presentation of changes slated to take place at the College including updated housing plans and ongoing renovations to academic buildings and the Collegiate Church of Christ the Teacher. He said renovations to the church’s lower level will include a bowling alley, esports and golf simulation areas, as well as an eatery.
“The space will be designed for students to come and hang out 24 hours a day,” President Hopey said.
He also reported to students that as many as 300 additional parking spots are planned over the next several years.
The president also talked about a number of changes affecting Merrimack’s athletic facilities, including Hammel Court renovations and new squash and tennis courts.
President Hopey also announced that the College has recruited a full-time comfort dog who will work alongside the Merrimack Police Department this spring. He said she is trained to handle stressful, crowded situations and provide comfort and community engagement.
“She is not a police dog,” the president said. “She is a comfort dog focusing on helping members of the community when they need it most.”
In addition to the president’s updates, students came prepared with questions of their own. In response to a question about if the College will recognize Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day in the future, President Hopey said the Student Government Association will conduct a survey about the name change.
Another student asked if the Hamel Health and Counseling Center will be expanding. The president said that more state licensing will need to occur before the center can grow.
The president reminded students that we all share in the responsibility to care for the earth’s future after being asked about the College’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.
“Many of you tonight have asked for more parking,” he said. “But remember – more parking means a larger carbon footprint. The College will continue to work with each of you on ways to limit our environmental impact, as well as ensure you have the best college experience.”
Pizza with the President, sponsored by the Student Government Association, is held twice a year and is an opportunity for students to connect directly with President Hopey. Students can learn more about the College and Merrimack administration can address student questions.