The hallways of Suter Science Center are cramped and dimly lit. Students shuffle through on their way to classes, with little space to talk or work on homework. On the bottom floor, many of the classrooms are labs, which do not meet several of the current safety precautions. In addition, the labs are laid out in a way which professors say is not conducive to group work.
These issues, along with an outdated HVAC system, have led EMU to plan a renovation project which the university hopes will be completed over the next several years.
According to the most recent presidential update, EMU is hoping to wrap up its fund raising efforts for renovation in December. “Several recent gifts and commitments have put us over the $6.2 million mark! This does not include a new anonymous matching gift of $500,000 which will not be released to EMU until we raise $6.8 million in total gifts and commitments… so, we have work to do yet before our campaign deadline on December 31.”
After the necessary money is raised, the science center renovation project will deal mainly with logistical challenges instead of financial ones.
According to Tara Kishbaugh, professor of chemistry, and head of the building renovation committee, “for example, it will be impossible to do the renovation entirely during the summer months. Having portions of one of the main academic buildings unavailable during the school year will make class scheduling tricky.”
This is a challenge that was also identified by Doug Graber Neufeld, professor of biology, and another member of the building renovation committee. “That is a lot of what the committee has been working with lately,” Graber Neufeld said. “I believe our plan is to renovate half of the labs at a time, and use the half that aren’t being renovated to hold classes.”
Graber Neufeld admitted that this might cause logistic problems once renovations begin, but was hopeful that these problems could be dealt with, “It may be that we have to delay some lab classes, but I am hopeful that it will not be too many.”
Despite these problems, those close to the project are excited about the new possibilities it could create for EMU’s science programs. When asked what upgrades will be the most important in the remodeled science center, both Graber Neufeld and Kishbaugh agreed that the new lab space would be important for its upgrades to technology, safety, and to provide a better learning environment.
“For example, the new space will be easier to navigate with central gathering areas and easy to find administrative offices, and the renovated lab spaces will be state-of-the-art and ones that enable better teaching and learning,” said Kishbaugh. One much needed update that will occur will be modifying the lab’s ventilation systems to meet current safety codes.
Other potential advantages of the remodeled science center that the building renovation committee identified included an upgrade in technology.
In particular, Graber Neufeld identified the area of computer technology as one place where a renovated science center would give the students an advantage after the remodel. Graber Neufeld also mentioned that he looked forward to rooms with windows that led not just outside, but to the hallways, “I think that the windows into the halls create more of a feeling that science is happening.” As the time to begin breaking ground on the renovations nears, more information, including artists’ renditions of the remolded space will become available at http:// www.emu.edu/science-complex/.
-David Yoder, Co-Editor In Chief
Tags: David Yoder