New Academic Building Plans for Fall 2017

Elissa Sanci

During Friday, Oct. 23’s weekly Undergraduate Student Government Association meeting, President Steven Kaplan announced the plans for the construction of a new academic building and glass atrium, which will act as a student activity space on campus.

The new building, which will serve as another academic facility on campus, will be placed in the Kaplan parking lot, adjacent to Buckman Hall. The glass atrium will connect Buckman Hall to the new building, as well as connect the new facility with Bartels Hall.

The construction of the new building will eliminate approximately 150 to 180 parking spots, but Kaplan said that 200 to 220 spots will replace them in “various properties close to the campus.”

Parking relocation and expansion will be completed at the same time as the building.” It has to be—otherwise it would be chaos,” Kaplan said. Parking has been factored into the building costs.

Kaplan’s target opening date for the new facility, which will be funded through bank loans and financial gifts to the university, is fall 2017, which he calls “a pretty aggressive schedule.”

The new academic hall will be used for classes of all different disciplines and won’t be limited to just the sciences, although Kaplan does hope to move some classes from Dodds and Buckman Hall in order to free space in both buildings for more science laboratories. Kaplan also said that he hopes to use the new building to house programs with growth potentials, such as the Communication department, and also added that no faculty office space will be added to the facility, as it is intended entirely for student use.

The ground floor of the new building will be a MakerSpace, which is a large open space with flexible walls that can be used by students of all disciplines as they work on various projects throughout the school year.

The glass atrium, which will likely be three stories high and the length of the new building, will serve as a student socializing space, which Kaplan hopes will ideally be used by students for coffee breaks, study groups, club meetings, and concerts. At the moment, he said, this is all conceptual.

Kaplan addressed student concerns during the meeting, most of which revolved around parking, possible uses of the new building, and on-campus housing.

USGA Senator Rachael Spotts felt that new dormitories on campus should be held as a higher priority than a new academic building. Kaplan explained that while the university is in need for more housing, it is difficult for the university to find donors for new residence hall.

Instead, Kaplan would like to build off-campus apartments in the area that are competitively priced but separately contracted from the university in order to get more housing closer to campus.

USGA Senator Mark Sylvester suggested that because of safety concerns, the university should help students look for off-campus housing in safe, affordable areas. “If you’re not going to make a new building, then you need to get a group of people who can help students find safe place to live off campus,” he said. “Help us find safe and affordable housing.”

Kaplan said he appreciated the discussion and that he was happy to see so many students involved and invested in the campus.

“We’re here for one reason and one reason only: to educate young people,” Kaplan said. “We’re here for you. I don’t take what you’re asking as complaints, but as valid concerns.”