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Sunday, December 6, 2020

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Vacancy to boost ‘level of learning’


Relocating one of UH’s primary computer labs might mean new office space, graduate assistant offices and a reception area for the Graduate School of Social Work by next summer.

The Central site Computing Center relocated to the M.D. Anderson Memorial Library basement over the summer, when it was rechristened the Technology Commons. The computer lab, formerly just known as Central site, was in need of expansion from its former home in the Social Work building.

The move is a boon for the Graduate School of Social Work.

"We have opted to increase the level of learning. This space will help us do that," said Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Social Work Paul Raffoul.

Plans for the renovation have been in the works since 2005, but none have been finalized yet, Raffoul said. They are expected to be complete by spring, pending an agreement between the school and the contractor, he said.

Current planning additions include a reception area, administrative offices, a classroom and student services, such as academic advising and graduate assistant offices.

The Technology Commons relocation from the Social Work building had been an important priority. The Technology Commons is now located in a pedestrian traffic area located by the University Center, the Welcome Center and the Hilton College.

"We needed more space," Director of Academic Technologies for Technology Support Services Sara Baber said. "This space wasn’t occupied and academic space is at a premium."

Biology senior and lab technician Jimmy Tran believed the move is an improvement.

"The Social Work lab was smaller and noisier," he said. "This one is bigger."

But some students have had mixed reactions to the new location.

"I preferred the old labs," philosophy senior Ty Harvey said. "It was more convenient for me because most of my classes are over there."

Business administration junior Angela Guevara said the decision to change the location was a good idea.

"I do think this lab is more spacious," Guevara said. "It has more computers, and it’s more organized."

Despite some student complaints, Baber said that students were informed of the move to ease the transition.

"We put up posters and handed out flyers and stayed open at our old location for limited hours to make for an easy transition," she said.

User support technician Martha Lugo said that the move had been planned since 2005.

"It’s a lot better over (in the basement) because it’s our own place," Lugo said.

Undergraduate academic advising and retention will follow the computer lab’s move to the library basement next spring, said Diana Velez, director of undergraduate academic development and retention.

"The move will be wonderful because students will only have one place to go," Velez said.


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