Here is a great and thought provoking piece by our own Tex…
When I bought a home eight years ago one of the things that caught my attention were the 20 foot Roman pillars of the front porch. No other home in the neighborhood had them. They were unique and those tall white pillars drew me right in.
Colleges also have front porches. They are called sports programs and specifically football. The quality of the porch helps a school stand out among its peers. It helps create a unique character and identity. It helps attract the top percent of student applicants. Moreover it is a sense of pride for fans and alumni. It’s a way to connect and engage across generations.
Chancellor Gallagher has spoken publicly about the need for a good Pitt front porch. He understands the porch is often the first thing seen by people. It’s often how one perceives the school and if your porch isn’t attractive, few will even bother to knock on the door.
I appreciate his understanding but I do question whether anyone at the university has a good knowledge of construction. With any porch, it begins with a budget and then design and blue prints. You receive bids and then you select the contractor. You hope your contractor successfully builds your porch on time and on budget and in the end you will have something you’re proud of, can enjoy and share with others.
Historically, Pitt has neglected that front porch. It’s sports programs have been ignored while the real money was spent on the interior rooms of the house. Pitt doesn’t have the biggest house on the block. It’s enrollment is half of most big state schools. The house is located on a very small parcel of land. And it’s quite old.
Pitt doesn’t really have the money to do extensive renovations. Its revenues are one of the lowest among P5 schools. It’s athletic donations are near the bottom of ACC schools.
It’s been four years since Chancellor Gallagher announced the initiative to renovate that front porch. So where do we stand today? More importantly, does anyone understand what was proposed to be delivered?
A porch gives a school its identity. What is Pitts identity? To me it’s an urban school that excels in the medical and scientific disciplines. You’ll find those rooms inside the house. But you need to walk onto the porch and open the front door first. Has Pitt’s porch become more attractive over the past four years?
Making a porch attractive is more than just putting on a new coat of blue and gold paint. It goes beyond just making it visually appealing. You also need to think about functional design. Is it a good place to hang out, entertain and relax?
I still think there is more work to be performed on that porch. Today it’s an average porch in an elite neighborhood. I hope Chancellor Gallagher is sincere in his desire to make continual improvements and is not shy about spending the necessary money.
Pitt truly has some beautiful rooms inside this old house but the porch is key to attract people and to convince them to stay.
P/S: If you want a painful reminder of the “Front Porch” promises then read this article…have your barf bag ready though – Reed.