Renovations target older classrooms

Maria Nann

Project to be complete by fall

A room in Taylor Hall is scheduled to be renovated along with the $2.3 million classroom improvement project that started last spring. Photo courtesy of Mary Mundy.

Credit: DKS Editors

Kent State has been using the calm campus setting during summer months to clean up the campus.

The university has been implementing a $2.3 million classroom improvement project, which began this spring and will be completed this summer. The funds for the project came from the president’s strategic fund and end-of-the-year funds from the provost’s office and Kent campus deans’ offices.

The project has focused mainly on seating, painting and window covering in 70 selected rooms in 15 buildings on campus. The buildings were selected for renovation based on studies indicating where students spent the most time. These include Bowman Hall, McGilvrey Hall, White Hall and Satterfield Hall, among others. Other buildings were chosen based on how long they have gone without renovations.

“The project is progressing well,” said Laura Davis, associate provost for Planning and Academic Management.

Davis said the projected completion date for the improvements is Aug. 22, with the exception of one room’s planned completion in December because of demolition. Five of the newly renovated rooms will not receive furniture until a few weeks into the semester.

“It’s been very time-consuming,” said Tim Martin, executive director for Administrative and Business Services. He added that summer classes have been moved around to accommodate for the renovations and updates.

Aside from the primary focuses for the renovations, the project has included updating furniture styles, floor coverings, and classroom technology. Some materials, such as fabric and floor coverings, have also been updated to ensure they are environmentally friendly.

“I think some of the furniture is still here from when I went to school,” Martin said, laughing. “The actual access is going to be improved.”

Michael Bruder, director of design and construction, said the renovations involved fixing up two basic types of rooms. In lecture halls, Bruder said, crews updated seating and furniture to make more classes more spacious and comfortable for students. In smaller classrooms, he said, they tried to change seating from tablet-arm desks to tables and chairs, to provide for more flexibility in the classroom.

“It sparked a lot of interest and excitement from faculty,” Bruder said, adding with more flexibility in the classroom, teachers will be better prepared to teach and inspire their students comfortably.

Martin said with the new furniture, students will have easier access getting in and out of both of the classrooms and chairs, in addition to having more room to work.

In addition to the renovations, light fixtures have been cleaned and ceiling tiles have been replaced where necessary.

Because of the larger, more accommodating furniture, the amount of students in each newly renovated classroom generally will be smaller than what it was previously. This was done, Martin said, with input from heads of academic departments. He added that making up for the shrinking number of students will be up to each individual department.

The university conducted extensive consultation with academic units, Davis said, to ensure that seating styles fit teaching goals and address issues of scheduling and capacity.

“Departments have welcomed the opportunity to match pedagogy and seating design,” she said, “and are enthusiastic about the changes.”

In addition to the renovations being made to classrooms, Campus Environment and Operations is in charge of this summer’s Campus Cleanup Project, which is almost complete. Campus Cleanup, a project that started May 12, is getting rid of outdated chairs and unnecessary classroom items of academic buildings.

Seating that is no longer usable for Kent State is going to a vendor who will donate it to needy schools and will recycle wood and metal from other seating.

The bottom line, Martin said, is that classrooms are going to be more appealing to the eyes and easier for students to sit in.

“I think students are going to like it,” he said. “It’s going to be nice.”

Contact principal reporter Maria Nann at [email protected].