Steve Hesselschwerdt, associate director for space management in Facilities & Services, is coordinating more than $4.4 million in improvements to classrooms in the Foreigh Language Building, the Armory and other buildings.
Photo by Kwame Ross
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The tuition that incoming freshmen and transfer students pay at the Urbana campus will do more than pay for these students’ education: It will benefit UI students for years to come by funding badly needed upgrades in classrooms around campus.
The “truth-in-tuition” law that went into effect beginning with the summer 2004 semester mandated that all public universities in the state of Illinois charge incoming freshmen the same tuition for four consecutive years. The UI chose to extend the program to incoming transfer students as well, beginning with their initial enrollment at any of the UI campuses.
Students on the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee were concerned how the tuition differential for 04-05 would be spent and suggested that the campus use it to upgrade classrooms, associate provost Bill Adams said recently.
“Classrooms are high-traffic areas, and they are heavily used and well used,” Adams said. “They just don’t last a very long period of time. Seats need to be replaced and technology changes a lot too.”
A $2-million-per-year classroom improvement initiative begun in 1994 was suspended in 2002 when the state’s economic crisis precipitated a series of budgetary reductions and rescissions for the university.
When the classroom improvement program began in 1994, Steve Hesselschwerdt, associate director for space management in Facilities & Services, toured all 400 of the general assignment classrooms on campus, “and they were in horrible condition,” Hesselschwerdt said. “They hadn’t been maintained since the buildings were originally constructed. However, we have chipped away at this backlog of maintenance projects over the years and have turned the corner to where most of our classrooms are in excellent condition.”
Even so, by FY05, which began in July, Hesselschwerdt had a backlog of classrooms needing new technology, new seating and extensive renovations.
While some smaller classrooms on campus will only receive minor “face lifts” – such as a new coat of paint – some of the larger, outdated theater-style auditoriums will receive major overhauls next summer, including new furniture and media installations.
Before students return to campus in January, all 18 classrooms on the first floor of the Foreign Language Building will be freshened up with new paint and new desks. In addition, eight of the classrooms in FLB, as well as four classrooms in the Armory, will be outfitted with new media: computer consoles with overhead digital projectors and videocassette recorders and DVD players.
When the student population on campus dwindles this summer, major renovations will begin on six of the larger lecture halls, including rooms 23, 31 and 32 in the Psychology Building; a computer lab and Room 66 in the Library, which accommodate 35 and 210 students respectively; and Room 144 in Loomis Laboratory of Physics, which accommodates about 99 people. Also during the summer, rooms 229 and 231 in the Natural History Building will be combined to create a larger lecture hall that will seat about 85 students.
Full renovations and media installations in each of these larger classrooms are projected to cost between $150,000 and $456,000 per room.
Also on the “to do” list are the Living/Learning classrooms at Pennsylvania Avenue Residence Hall, Weston Hall, Illinois Street Residence Hall and Florida Avenue Residence Halls. New media and new seating will be installed in each of those rooms at a cost of $20,000 per room.
Room 112 Chemistry Annex, 116 Roger Adams Lab and 103 Transportation also will receive upgraded seating.
The goal is to have all renovations done before students return to campus in August, Hesselschwerdt said.
During summer 2006, two classrooms in the Vet Med building, rooms 80 and 100, will be updated as well.