Small changes, lasting significance for summer projects

September 13, 2012 | 11 a.m.

No new buildings were built, but the projects pave the way for important improvements on campus

News | Jon Westmark

Small changes, lasting significance for summer projects

Minor office changes are just the first of many campus changes. | Erin Gallagher

To students, two offices moving across the hall in the bowels of the HC building has little consequence—a pause and puzzled look at the vacant space next to the PO boxes and possibly a shrug at the new offices only a few strides away—but as it is with many summer projects, students are only seeing a part of a larger plan. 

The Facilities Maintenance and Security offices now sit where the old campus bookstore was when the Brushaber Commons were still ink on a page. Many students today may not have known the space existed because until this past summer, it was walled off. 

Shuffling the offices is one step in preparing for the construction of a new wellness facility, set to begin next summer. During the construction, the temporary classrooms in Kresge courtyard will no longer be available. The loss of these poses a real problem for scheduling. “We have to generate new classrooms to replace those,” says Tom Trainor, Vice President for Facilities and Planning. The old bookstore space had enough room to compensate, but its configuration wasn’t suitable for classrooms. The Facilities Maintenance and Security offices were, so they moved them across the hall and will use the vacated space for two to three classrooms next year. 

The complicated move isn’t without a payoff. “The most significant thing we did for students long-term this summer is our planning for wellness,” Trainor said. The project is currently wrapping up the second of three design phases for the four floor facility, which will include eight classrooms, a top of the line fitness facility, health and counseling services offices, and space for the Biokinetics department. 

The Biology department also saw subtle changes over the summer in one of its labs. Additional vents and ducts were installed in AC157. However small, these changes are crucial in getting the Physician’s Assistant graduate program started at Bethel. The two year program, which will tentatively start in May of 2013, requires a cadaver lab. With the changes to AC157 it now has sufficient ventilation (turning over the air about 20 times per hour) to meet the strict guidelines for a cadaver lab. “We are over-booked for room in the Biology department,” says Professor of Biology Tim Shaw. “We need to make maximum use of our space.” 

According to Trainor, it isn’t only space that makes large projects difficult, it’s also disruption avoidance. “When your mission is teaching and learning, you’re limited in the projects you can do when school is in session,” he said. The summer projects helped avoid disruption. By moving the Facilities Management and Security offices, students will still have class space while the wellness center is being constructed. By improving room AC157, the cadaver lab can be set up for graduate students in the summer and undergraduates in the fall and spring.

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