University of Maryland's president mansion to be demolished

(AP, WJLA) - The Maryland Board of Public Works has approved demolishing the president's residence at the University of Maryland, College Park, in order to make way for a new $7.2 million mansion.

The board voted 2-1 on Wednesday to tear down the existing residence, which was built in 1956. Comptroller Peter Franchot voted against the idea of building a new mansion, given budget constraints at the university. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Treasurer Nancy Kopp approved it.

It's no longer considered suitable as both a residence and a venue for important fundraising events, according to the UMD Foundation President Brodie Remington.

"It wasn't handicap accessible, very poor utilities, very inefficient," Remington said.

Supporters say they hope to raise more money by having a better venue for fundraising.

"This facility will raise a lot of money for the university," Remington said, who viewed it as an investment.

In the coming years, public universities are expected to receive less and less money from the state, so they need to raise money privately, he said. He added that 30 donors gave money specifically for this purpose.

Finally, Remington said the new home will have two sections: a residence and an events center. The residence will cost $2 million to build.

"This is a 14,000 square foot facility," he said. "Only 4,000 of it is residential space."

Still, students wondered how the university could justify spending $7.2 million on a new house for its president, especially after recent cuts to athletics.Just weeks ago, the president agreed to cut eight varsity sports teams. The cuts would allegedly save $29 million over a span of eight years.

"That's a little excessive," said student Derek Denning. "That's a lot of money that could go to other places that would benefit the college more, I think."

The College Park Foundation is planning to build The University House next to the site of the existing residence, using its own money.