Renovations in Humanities building expected in near future
Fundraising for renovations to Kresge Recital Hall and classrooms throughout the Humanities building may soon bridge the gap between dreams and reality for many students and faculty members on campus.
During the fall of 2015, President Rob Oliver announced that Augustana’s name change would accompany significant enhancements throughout campus over the next five years. Improvements in the Humanities building were among those promises.
“A larger thing that we are fundraising for as a part of the campaign is some renovations to Kresge, the auditorium,” said Tom Meyer, vice president for finance and administration. “Some of that is the sound system, light system and projection.”
These improvements are designed to ensure that choral and orchestral ensembles continue to grow and thrive on campus. Senior orchestra member Katie Foss is eager to see the functionality of Kresge improved.
“It is exciting to see that renovations to Kresge are beginning,” Foss said. “Music is a vital part in what makes Augustana such a great place to learn, and Kresge is receiving a much needed update.”
While updates to the music facilities outside of Kresge are not explicitly listed in Oliver’s renovation plan, Josh Jaton, a sophomore music and classics major, believes that the music department’s aesthetics need some improvement.
“The practice rooms in the basement are all sorts of scary,” Jaton said. “It’s a gamble every time I go down there.”
The Kresge renovations are projected to cost $2 million, while initial renovations of five classrooms will total between $50,000 and $100,000. Renovations will not be funded by tuition.
“A two-million-dollar project will require some gifts,” Meyer said.
However, tuition is used to pay for the general operations of buildings, especially the Froiland Science Complex.
Enrollment hit a 25-year high in the fall of 2016, the same time Augustana cut the ribbon to the FSC.
“It is creating a better benefit and attracting more students,” Meyer said. “We make these investments with the intention that it is going to have a positive impact.”
Future Vikings are a primary focus and motivating factor behind these changes. With 2,500 combined undergraduate and graduate students as part of the Horizons 2019 plan, the time is right to pursue these renovations.
“You have to have adequate facilities to meet the standards that students have,” Meyer said.
Jaton echoed Meyer.
“Entering into the 21st century, we are in need of newer, more updated facilities that are more in tune with our needs and wants as students, with growth in mind as well,” Jaton said.
Students and faculty are not only tuning their ears to the renovations to Kresge but also to the classroom improvements. Five classrooms will be outfitted with new desks, carpet and technology.
“In some classrooms, we are looking at putting in these things called pods,” communications professor John Bart said.
A pod is a desk on wheels which allows professors to easily configure the classroom to their preference. Having the freedom to move desks and students is important for Bart and other professors on campus.
“There is almost an infinite variety of ways that you can put them together to fulfill what you would like to do,” Bart said.
Bart also anticipates that carpeting will make classrooms feel warmer and more inviting.
“Right now, we have hard floors and hard walls,” Bart said. “Everything is a hard surface. The idea is that it would make it easier to be able to have conversation.”
As enrollment creeps toward 2,500, class size is what concerns Jaton most.
“There have been a lot of times where you find a seminar-sized class in a classroom that’s only supposed to fit 30 or 40 kids,” Jaton said. “The second and third floors [of Humanities] have a need for more space than what’s available.”
The FSC allows students studying the sciences to learn and experiment in a $35 million, state-of-the-art facility. The $2 million improvements are helping the Humanities building play catch-up.
“With the three main academic buildings, we’ve all taken turns,” Bart said. “So now it is the natural time where it comes over here and we are able to say what kinds of things would help us.”
While an exact date is not set for renovations to start in the Humanities building, students and faculty alike have high hopes.
“I think it will tell both faculty and students that there is value here,” Bart said.