Changes under way at Comm building

Renovations in the School of Communication have been ongoing since April 30, and officials said the update will make the building into an accessible computing center.

The new computing center will be larger and more accessible than the current one. In addition to the new computing center, three classrooms will be transformed.

"The primary objectives for this project are to remodel an extremely dilapidated and inefficiently designed computing area and to create a student-friendly collaborative learning and computing center that will benefit our students and ultimately our faculty, staff and alumni," said School of Communication LAN Administer Shawn McCombs.

The 1977 building, originally intended for photography, currently houses a computing lab, numerous classrooms and Student Publications.

The renovations will bring advanced equipment and increase learning space for students.

"The primary benefits (of the renovations project) will be additional seating capacity in the computer lab open area, modern seminar-style classrooms, a new e-mail and printing kiosk for quick access and limited computing needs, a conference room, a server room, a centralized support desk, two touch-screen collaborative work centers that will enable group work and project learning and some limited seating capacity for students to work on their own laptops or other devices that they may bring to the center," McCombs said.

In the past, student access to computers has been hindered because of classes in session, said associate professor and school director Beth Olsen on the shortage of space.

"Students will now have a gathering place to work individually or in groups at any time during the day," she said. "We anticipate it will contribute to the sense of community for our students.

Students are experiencing minimal inconvenience from the construction, McCombs said, because classes have changed location for the summer.

"Classes and offices in the affected space have been temporarily relocated to other parts of the building or, in the case of summer school, other parts of the campus," McCombs said.

On Wednesday, a small amount of asbestos was found in insulation above a darkroom in The Daily Cougar’s offices during work on the second floor above. Removal is under way and expected finished by the end of the week.

The renovations have been divided into two phases, and are to be completed by fall 2008.

"Phase I is currently under way and is scheduled to be completed on Aug. 6 of this year, just in time for the fall 2007 semester," McCombs said. "Phase II, which will encompass the second half of the space and add a third classroom to the center, is currently scheduled for summer 2008."

McCombs and Olson said that students and faculty will benefit from the renovations.

"Our students, faculty and staff will have a new space to call their own – a space that meets some of the challenges and expectations of today’s learner, as well as those challenges faced by the faculty who guide them on their individual academic paths – and the technology to enable and empower our students to be future leaders of industry as they graduate and enter the work force," McCombs said. "It has always been the goal of ours to provide this type of environment and to manage a space that our students will feel comfortable working and learning with others in as they pursue their academic experience."

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