Various campus departments are dusting off their knights and bishops and strategically placing them in striking distance of the king – thousands of square feet of new and newly vacated building space.
The departments will begin their calls of “checkmate” following the completion in two years of the cluster of new buildings that will sit between the bus loop and HSSB – the Carsey-Wolf Center for Film, Television and New Media building; the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education building and the College of Letters and Science building.
Various campus departments, including the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, which currently occupies space in Phelps Hall, and Film Studies, which has its headquarters in Ellison Hall, and other social sciences located in Ellison are preparing to move into the three buildings, leaving an influx of vacant space in their wake.
Still other departments are hoping their pawns can capture the soon-to-open areas in Phelps and Ellison Halls.
The Geography Dept. is particularly “spatially challenged,” according to the department’s website, and has been since it moved to its current location in 1969. Now the department is spread across three buildings, including Ellison Hall, and according to Dept. Chair Oliver Chadwick, the department does not have room to increase enrollment for classes, maintain a tutoring room or teach chemistry labs.
“The space problem has limited us in several different ways,” Chadwick said. “It has made it difficult to hire people because we don’t have adequate space to offer them. It’s also been difficult to teach the size classes that we would like. It also means that we don’t have adequate space for graduate students – our graduate and undergraduate programs tend to diffuse. We don’t have a student lounge kind of space.”
According to the department website, space in Phelps Hall has been promised in three years once the building is renovated, allowing Geography to fit under one roof.
“All these problems are being addressed by the additional space,” Chadwick said. “I wouldn’t want to come off as complaining about that at this point, though we have in the past. I don’t anticipate there being problems in the future [with getting space] although there have been in the past.”
Meanwhile, according to Director of Capital Development Martie Levy, the Film Studies, Law & Society, Sociology and Communications Depts. are among a few of the academic departments that will relocate from Ellison Hall into the New Media complex. The relocation of the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education will also clear out a few departments located in Phelps Hall, which also houses the language departments. This will provide additional room for the Instructional Computing Labs in Phelps Hall to expand within the building, and for the Geography Dept. to move in.
The Dept. of Mathematics and the Dept. of Statistics and Applied Probability will move to Ellison Hall from their current location in South Hall. Levy said the various departments who currently inhabit South Hall will receive additional space, as they are all suffering from space shortages. The Political Science Dept. will also gain space in Ellison.
“We’re very excited about getting new space… We’ll be in one building, which is good because right now we’re in Phelps and also in some other older buildings,” said George Yatchisin, communications coordinator for the Gevirtz Graduate School. “We are expecting growth in our grad and minor programs, so we [will need] more faculty and more students.”
Levy said planning for infrastructure began in 2000 when Chancellor Henry T. Yang appointed a committee made up of deans and Academic Senate leadership to evaluate the need for extra room. As the largest building concept on campus, Levy said construction on the Education and Social Science cluster is expected to address the space shortages, which will require multiple facility relocations.
“By relocating these departments and college, the campus is then able to meet the space needs of [departments],” Levy said.
She said current and projected enrollment, number of faculty, number of staff, specialized research and instructional needs were all factors used to determine space necessity.
Michael Stohl, a professor and chair of the Communication Dept., said most of their new space will be used for graduate students and research.
“The faculty are greatly looking forward to the completion of the new building,” Stohl said. “We are pleased that there will be some additional space for graduate students, and we are hopeful that the new space will accommodate our growing research needs.”
Thomas Sideris, the Mathematics Dept. chair, said their department would utilize the extra room to expand and improve, as they already have a floor plan of the new area. However, Sideris said moving could potentially be problematic.
“It’s a mixed blessing because on the one hand, we get more room and, on the other, we’re happy where we are and are getting by,” Sideris said. “We’ve been here for 25 years, and have it set up in a way that we like. In some ways, it’ll be better, but not in all ways.”
Levy said the departmental deans will determine who will receive private offices out of those who share them currently. The deans will also decide how the moving process will take place.
“The campus … will retain the services of a moving company,” Levy said. “It is a huge effort that requires a lot of coordination, which is typically managed at a central level within a Dean’s office and then by the Management Services offices at the department level.”
– Lindsey Miller contributed to this article.