New building approved
All the major approvals have been met to begin construction on a new education building in May, according to the chair of the building committee.
Dr. Gail Scukanec, the chair, said that the idea for a new building began more than 20 years ago. However, she said that plans to get the process going really began when she started working at the university in the fall of 2007.
Scukanec says there are a variety of reasons why a new education building is needed.
“It’s an attempt to build a building that meets lots of university-wide needs to have up-to-date classrooms, to have a good setup for technology,” Scukanec said. “It’s really being designed with today’s learning styles in mind.”
The budget for the building is $44.5 million and is being entirely funded by the state, Scukanec said. The building will go where the Campus School and parking lot between Brewer and Schneider halls are currently located, she added.
Ben Ponkratz, director of the Student Office of Sustainability and one of two students on the building committee, said that making the new building more sustainable has been one of his primary goals throughout the project.
He said that after seeing so much enthusiasm about increasing sustainability in the new student center, that he really wanted to “parlay that enthusiasm in the new education building.”
Ponkratz says that the building will be 30 percent more efficient than state code requires, and that a large emphasis will be placed on natural light.
“That was one thing that we looked at in Hibbard, and we saw there was no light getting in there,” he said. “Professors are in their offices all cooped up, so the sun is really going to be shining in this new building.”
Likewise, Ponkratz said a big thing that he is pushing for is the inclusion of ‘energy dashboards.’ He said the dashboards would monitor the energy efficiency in the building, and convert it into how many cars would be taken off the road, and how many trees would be saved.
Gillian Pacetti, a fifth year senior and music education major, says it can be difficult at times being located in such close proximity to the Children’s Center. She added that due to flooding in the basement of the Children’s Center, matters have even gotten worse.
“It’ really difficult for learning because you basically have the children next door screaming,” Pacetti said. “And because of the flooding that happened, the rooms in the basement were moved upstairs into Brewer, and it’s distracting.”
Scukanec said that because the education department is so cramped for space, that some of the classes are actually held in the Human Sciences and Services Building as well.
Pacetti said that the distance between buildings and fellow students can be hard at times.
“It makes it difficult to have group meetings when everyone is far away, because we really focus on having group meetings in our higher education classes,” she said.
If all goes well, Scukanec says the building will be mostly completed by November 2013, and that classes will start being held there in January of 2014.
Pacetti thinks that ultimately the new building will provide a huge benefit for everyone, especially the education students.
“I think it’s really going to bring everyone together,” she said. “I think that overall it’s going to create a better community throughout the department.”