Oscar Richie renovation scatters Pan-African Studies department

Christina Stavale

Pan African Studies classes have been scattered across campus due to renovations at Oscar Ritchie Hall. The department been moved to the Lincoln building on North Lincoln Street. GAVIN JACKSON | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

With renovations to Oscar Ritchie Hall underway, the Department of Pan-African Studies has settled into its temporary quarters of the Lincoln Building.

Located on the opposite side of Main Street than the majority of the campus, all faculty offices are housed within the building.

Francis Dorsey, associate professor of Pan-African Studies and interim chair of the department, said the move has posed a number of concerns. For this year’s fall and spring semesters, Pan-African Studies classes will be scattered across campus instead of in Oscar Ritchie, where the halls were lined with cultural objects and paintings.

“We won’t have that cultural nostalgia walking through the halls,” Dorsey said.

Dorsey said the main concern, however, is for the faculty, who will be teaching in a number of different buildings throughout the day in classrooms that may not meet each course’s needs.

“I think it’s unfair to displace us like that,” Dorsey said. “There is a major problem with course scheduling and classroom needs regarding this space. The same can be said for a number of other departments (on campus).”

Because of the renovations, the African Community Theatre will suspend its operation for this year, Dorsey said. Instead, they will focus on handling programming needs for when the theatre reopens in the renovated Oscar Ritchie Hall.

“It’s upsetting,” Dorsey said, “but we’ve tried to let people know what the issues are.”

Some areas of campus operations will cater to the department. Parking Services Manager Larry Emling said faculty will not be ticketed for parking near a building where they teach. The Lincoln Building’s parking hours have also been extended from 7 to 9 p.m. to accommodate the change. Emling said if the demand is there, they may extend the hours even later.

The renovations should be complete during Summer 2008, said Beth Ruffing, assistant director for capital design and construction.

Dorsey said the renovations will bring Oscar Ritchie, one of the campus’ oldest buildings, up to date with technology needs. The renovated building will be equipped with wireless access and elevators – things the old building lacked.

“Everyone needs to be patient this year to let the process work,” Dorsey said. “It can not be rushed, so when we return to the newly renovated facilities in 2008, it is something we can all be proud of.”

Contact minority affairs reporter Christina Stavale at [email protected].