EASTON -- The Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, a think tank that moved its primary campus from Aspen, Colo. to Maryland in 1984, has begun a $16 million expansion of its facility in the Rocky Mountain resort town where it was founded more than 40 years ago.
But the prestigious research institute's president says there are no plans to close or downsize its campus near Queenstown on the Wye River's banks.
"We're not leaving the Eastern Shore at all," institute President David McLaughlin said yesterday.
Some of the group's Maryland employees had been troubled about their future with the institute ever since word of the construction and reorganization efforts in Colorado filtered east a month ago.
Mr. McLaughlin said the Queen Anne's County facility will continue to operate as a year-round conference center for outside groups, as well as a seminar site for institute members.
He said the construction in Colorado will enable the Aspen center to conduct meetings throughout the year. Because the buildings there were not winterized, the institute could meet only during summer.
Mr. McLaughlin said the institute now has facilities in Berlin, Rome, Tokyo and Washington as well as those in Aspen and outside Queenstown.
In addition to its Colorado expansion, Mr. McLaughlin said the institute also intends to turn its attention to its original bipartisan aims by examining abstract ideas and relating them to modern life. In recent years, the institute dwelt on current political and economic issues.
Aspen Institute was founded in 1950, one year after what was then an isolated Colorado mountain town was host to the Goethe Bicentennial Festival, a three-week meeting that drew artists and intellectuals -- including Dr. Albert Schweitzer -- from around the world.
Bowing to anti-development pressures in Aspen, the institute headquarters was moved to the Eastern Shore on 1,200 acres of farmland donated by the late Arthur A. Houghton Jr., an institute trustee and corporate executive who had acquired the historic Wye Plantation as a residence.