Signs of the Times

By Sabrina Carroll

Student Life Editor

Over the summer, new signs were placed around campus to identify buildings and directions. The new signs and campus maps had faculty and students talking. Opinions about the signs graced the screens of cell phones everywhere, making for a hot topic of discussion on Yik Yak and Facebook. sign4_byEmilyKlein

An issue that was seen around campus before the implemtation of the new signs was that new students and visitors would get lost trying to navigate the campus. “About two years ago, the Board of Visitors and Governors directed the administration to address a persistent problem that visitors and others unfamiliar with the campus had: finding their way to specific buildings or facilities on campus,” said Vice President for Finance and Administration Mark Hampton. To start resolving this problem the design and budget of the signs were approved last year.

Once the design and budget were approved, the signs were tailored to fit the College’s needs. “The signs and signage plan were designed by Architectural Sign Associates, a signage planner based out of Pittsburgh,” said Michael O’Connor, associate vice president of College Relations and Marketing. “We also worked with Douron Inc., the firm which handled the interior wayfinding project in the Miller Library last year, and the fabrication and installation was done by 2/90 Sign Systems.”

The cost of the signs ended up being $300,000. “The sign project was one of the many projects that were included in the College’s capital budget, the budget that is set aside for improvements to existing facilities and to construct new facilities such as the new academic building and Corsica Hall,” said Hampton. “The funds in the capital budget are specifically set aside by the Board for these purposes and cannot be spent for operating uses such as faculty or staff salaries or for financial aid.”sign2_byEmilyKlein

The process of bringing these signs and maps to campus was not entirely smooth sailing. O’Connor mentioned some issues that occurred during fabrication. “While I am obviously disappointed at the number of errors during fabrication, the signs are easily re-lettered and the manufacturer is of course going to pick up the cost of fixing them,” O’Connor said. Hampton added that there are issues from a placement standpoint. “There are a handful of awkwardly placed signs, and there are still a few inaccuracies that need to be addressed, but all of these matters will be addressed shortly.”

Despite facing some challenges, WC overall seems to be very happy with the new addition to campus. O’Connor said, “The signage does serve to make visitors feel more welcome, and I’ve heard that some first-year students appreciate not having to ask for directions. I know when I first arrived on campus two years ago I had to ask a number of people how to get to Casey Academic Center from Campus Drive [Ave.] despite it being a literal straight shot from the south entrance. There simply wasn’t any way for an outsider to know where buildings were located. We are very fortunate that this is a fantastically friendly community, but relying on the kindness of strangers is no substitute for a proper directional plan.”

Signs directing new students and visitors to various places around campus.
Signs directing new students and visitors to various places around campus.

Hampton added that while the signs serve their intended purpose, they also strengthen the identity of WC. “They provide a sense of cohesiveness to the image we project to visitors, particularly prospective students and their families. I will add that I’ve gotten a lot of positive comments from parents of new students and from new employees about how helpful the signs are, and how much more friendly the campus feels now that they are in place.”

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