Money pulled from updates
While safety and electrical concerns that have arisen from the construction in the communications building have been solved, one official said technology funds are being diverted towards the remodeling.
Money that should be going to upgrade the technology and software in the Communications Technology Center is being redirected to the construction, Shawn McCombs, manager of the CTC, said.
“To my understanding they don’t have any money to buy new equipment for the new studios either,” McCombs said. “What I’ve been told is that whatever equipment we had before is the same equipment that’s going back downstairs (into the studios).”
Still, McCombs said that the remodel program is in progress.
“We are putting major construction and renovation here in the department,” McCombs said. “No matter how you look at it, it’s progress and it’s going in a good direction — and I think in the long run it’s going to help better our school, for our students and the community.”
To reassure students and faculty that the Valenti project will be completed and won’t interfere with funding for other projects, Beth Olson, associate professor for the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, commented on the project.
“The construction will be completed and it is scheduled for May 2011,” Olson said. “The budget for this project has been tight since the start; however, we are making significant cost-effective improvements to the building, which will have a huge impact.
“We continue to seek additional funding for a few items, such as tile finishes. I’m optimistic those funds will be found.”
As for issues concerning technology upgrades in the CTC, Olson said that the building’s construction hasn’t stopped upgrades in the CTC lab.
“The equipment upgrades, namely in the computer classrooms and labs, are on a rolling replacement schedule,” Olson said. “The only upgrade we’ve chosen not to do this year is a software update, which I’m told won’t affect the majority of our students.”
Advisors and classes have been moved to other locations, causing some frustration among students.
“I can’t wait for it to be over,” Christine Pegg, a communications graduate student, said. “I began my program last semester and I just can’t wait to see the building back to normal.”
Last week, after her late afternoon and evening classes, Pegg noticed an electrical problem that made her return to school this semester less exciting.
“During the first week of school, the lights were out the first two nights in the construction area (communication breezeway and courtyard),” Pegg said. “I was scared because it was very dark and I felt it was very dangerous for students who take classes at night. But they did fix the lights by the time we got out of class on the second night, so that was good.”
UHPD was quickly alerted to the electrical problems and safey issues that the construction area was facing.
“I spoke with the Facilities Planning and Construction project manager and he advised that while there was a short period that walkway lights by the construction area were not functioning properly, they should be now,” UHPD Lt. Brett Collier said. “Our police and security officers are cognizant of construction areas around campus and are instructed to increase patrols in areas where lighting is diminished.
“I’ve asked our patrol operations lieutenant to take a look at the area after dark and see if we need to recommend lighting enhancements to the area while the project is underway,” Collier said.