Humanities classrooms get facelifts; more renovations envisioned


From the outside, the Humanities Building looks about the same as it did when it was built in 1971. 

However, take a look inside and you might notice that some classrooms got a facelift over the summer.

One of the most noticeable additions is the new tables and chairs in place of the old desk-arm chairs. 

Religion professor Rich Bowman said he has been waiting for the change.

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“The desks in this building go back to the 1970s when this building was built. They are this icky orange color, they are narrow and just not comfortable,” Bowman said.

The new tables and chairs provides Bowman the ability to create a more flexible teaching arrangement dependent on the class. There’s also no fuss about left- or right-handed chairs.

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“Room arrangement is important for the way you teach your class,” Bowman said. “When you arrange the clusters of students when they are across from each other, it allows for more collaborative work between the students.”

Bowman is excited about having this new ability to rearrange his classroom. During one of his Religion 110 classes, he sets up his room like a court with spots for the “Judge,” Jury” and the “Defendants,” his take on the written academic test. 

For sophomore Liz Petersen, using the old chairs is a juggling act. 

“They are so small,” Petersen said. “They’re only big enough that you can only fit your notebook, which is pretty difficult if you have a textbook, too.”

Petersen said separating the tables and chairs is the better way to go.

Besides the tables, some rooms were also carpeted and received a fresh coat of paint.

Many of the professors felt the need for changes to the classrooms prior to this year, but the renovation idea finally gained light after journalism and English professor Jeffrey Miller asked the Board of Trustees to meet in one of the old classrooms for a December meeting. 

After this meeting, it was evident to the board members that the classrooms were not on par with current pedagogical demands, especially after the renovations in the Madsen Center and the construction of the Froiland Science Complex. 

“When you look at how Froiland is set up, you can tell that we’re definitely behind,” Miller said.

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Miller also believes that the facilities in the Humanities Building have had a negative impact on the enrollment of humanities majors. 

So far, four classrooms have been renovated, with funding to complete four more in the future. Most of the project has been funded by gifts, with one room receiving a grant. 

“The plan is to do about a dozen of them, so I think we’re a little more than halfway there,” Bob Preloger, Vice President for Advancement, said.

According to Preloger, the project is a part of a planned $3 million renovation of the entire building. 

“So far we’ve raised around a million for it,” Preloger said.

To keep up with the current music facility standards, some changes need to be made to the Kresge Recital Hall and music rooms in the basement, Karie Frank, the Division Coordinator for the Humanities Division, said. 

Also, Frank said, the building currently has only one elevator, but plans are in the works for another in the music wing to make the building more accessible. 

The major plan for now, however, is focused on the classrooms.

 “Students want to see a more accommodating facility for the tuition that they pay,” Frank said. “I’m just very grateful. It was a team effort. It took a lot of people to make this happen. I tell people this is the best building on campus.”


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