College of Nursing unhappy with new CAEST building

Emily Mills

The new location for the College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology is drawing some concerns, as it takes the place of the College of Nursing’s faculty and staff parking lot.

Ground for the new building was broken at the beginning of this school year and nursing faculty and staff are now parking in a new lot that was converted from recreational green space behind Henderson Hall, the home of the college.

“A lot of people are concerned with the parking. We have to walk farther,” said Patricia Vermeersch, an associate professor in the College of Nursing.

However, Vermeersch and Debby Gesaman, secretary for the College of Nursing, are both concerned with the walk from the new lot come winter.

“It would be nice if there were some kind of cover from the parking lot to the building, because it’s kind of a distance,” Vermeersch said.

Gesaman said she hopes only to keep her feet dry on the walk.

“I don’t mind the walk, but we’ll see how it is in winter. I hope the university keeps the sidewalks clean,” she said.

Vermeersch said the loss of their former parking lot caused them to lose some parking spots for students and visitors to the college.

“It’ll have a bigger impact on visitors to the school [than the faculty],” she said.

The hardest part of losing the lots is the loss of handicapped spaces, Gesaman said. Many visitors participating in clinical studies and some professors utilized the handicapped parking spaces. She said she’s concerned these people will have to walk farther to get from a handicapped spot to Henderson Hall.

However, Michael Bruder, executive director for Facilities Planning and Design in the Office of the University Architect, estimates the distance from the new handicapped parking spots to the building is about the same distance as from the old handicapped spots.

Bruder said the idea to construct a new science building on the site has often been considered over the years.

“That site has always been viewed as a great opportunity for another science building on the science mall for them to work together,” he said.

With the College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology now being in close proximity to the other math and science buildings, Bruder said it will be easier for the disciplines to work with one another.

“It makes a lot of sense programmatically so students, faculty and researchers can collaborate a little better,” Bruder said.

The construction, expected to be completed in the fall of 2014, is also part of a plan to revitalize Summit Street. Bruder said the plan will make campus more visually appealing.

“Aesthetically, Summit Street has a long stretch of just parking [lots visible from the street],” Bruder said.

Sidewalks from the residence hall area to the Student Recreation and Wellness Center have already been improved as part of the project, Bruder said. Medians with trees are also supposed to be added to the middle of Summit Street.

Even though nursing faculty and staff may have to walk farther from their lot because of the construction and new building, Vermeersch said she isn’t necessarily upset about the loss of their former lot.

“It isn’t a bad thing,” she said. “Right now, it’s more the inconvenience, and looking at [the construction] for however long it’s going to take.”

Gesaman agreed, saying while it is a small inconvenience, it’s worth it in the end to give the College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology a chance to thrive.

Contact Emily Mills at [email protected].