President’s house

Megan Robinson

News and Web Editor

This long dining room table has room for many visitors to dine at the president's house.

The president's dining room features a long table.

In early July, 2 College Hill welcomed two new residents: Dr. Robert Casey and his wife, Robyn Allens. Dr. Casey, the ninth president of the college and the former Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at Rollins College in Florida, is the eighth president to live in the three-story home.

The house, completed in 1889, is located across from the theater on McDaniel’s campus. It has housed every college president since the second president, Thomas Lewis. Former President Dr. Joan Develin Coley lived in the house for six years before moving to an off-campus home with her husband, Lee Rice, in 2006.

For all current McDaniel students, this will be the first time that a college president has lived on campus. “The president’s house is an important component [to campus],” said Casey, who also noted that a president’s house was built while he worked at Rollins, and he saw firsthand the positive effect it had on the campus.

Senior Lauren Fischetti also seems to share Casey’s feelings: “It really shows that he wants to be a part of the community. We have a deep and rich history that should be celebrated and he’s jumping all in.”

Casey said he first saw the house October 2009, when he visited the campus for his first interview. He was impressed by the central location of both the president’s house and the office.

Casey’s former home was in a more private location, he joked, so he and his wife have had to adjust to shutting their blinds at night. However, he also noted that he loved the commute. He went home for lunch for the first time ever on his first day as McDaniel’s president. Casey spoke with Dr. Coley about her experiences in the house. They shared one experience in common already; they both got locked out on their first day in the house.

As in previous years, the first floor is used mostly for entertaining guests, the second is living quarters for the president and his family, and the third is a small apartment with an office for Dr. Casey. Casey has plans to open up the house to students and already envisions turning the third floor into a movie room for students’ use, with comfy chairs and a big screen.

Susan Leahy, a local interior designer who previously worked with Dr. Coley on the house, helped Casey and his wife decorate their new home. Dr. Casey said he wanted to maintain much of the original Victorian style. The biggest challenge was integrating his belongings – especially a large collection of folk art– with the furnishings of the home.

Vice president of Administration and Finances, Ethan Seidel said that the operating budget for the 2009-10 school year had already been approved when Coley announced her retirement, which meant it was too late to set aside funds for president’s house renovations. Recent updates were so minimal that the costs fit into the campus improvements portion of the normal operating budget, explained Seidel. However, not all of the additions to the home were financed by the college. Casey said that his wife and he paid for items they didn’t feel were appropriate for the college to cover such as his refrigerator, explaining that Robin and he are particular about fridges.

The couple also hopes to make the house environmentally greener by following the campus environmental plan created by McDaniel’s Greenterra environmental club. Changes linked to this greening effort include removing the garbage disposal and replacing light bulbs with energy efficient ones. Casey’s environmentally friendly plan extends to his presidential car – a Prius hybrid. Casey and Allens look forward to students’ return to campus so that it feels like a “real” campus. They also hope to open doors to their new home soon.