Humanities Center renovations transform building’s atmosphere

Whether you have just one class in the Fryxell Humanities Center or feel like you live there, any student has probably noticed the new floor tiles and men in neon yellow littering the halls for renovations.

The Board of Trustees began a two-hour meeting in 2016 to decide what kind of updates the humanities building needed. Jeffrey Miller, journalism professor and chair of the humanities division, said he requested to hold the meeting in the humanities building because he wanted the board to see that the building needed some changes.

Miller held the meeting in room 201; the board immediately noticed issues with the classrooms and desks.

“They were uncomfortable…That’s how we started to build classrooms; they understood,” Miller said.

He first pointed out the broken doors and need for new paint in all the rooms, Miller said. Then, he showed the board the rest of humanities and its poor, outdated features — the bathrooms in particular.

“[They] saw that the bathrooms looked like the Chicago bus terminal,” Miller said.
Originally a three and a half year plan to update classrooms, the humanities ended up with a full renovation.

The renovations focused on classrooms and bathrooms but also included new flooring, lighting and building updates. Some of the construction was supposed to be finished before students returned to school for the 2019 fall semester. However, many obstacles kept the renovations from finishing on time.

Materials for the floor were delayed in shipment. Heavy rains early in the summer flooded the basement. Miller said the water had to be “sucked out” of the basement and new flooring placed down. A truck bed taking the doors to be repaired tipped, damaging the doors.

The biggest “glitch” came when the National Association of Schools of Music informed the humanities and music departments that without an elevator to take students to the basement practice room, there could be no music program. The departments had to make a last minute decision to install an elevator.

“With all the glitches that happened, our faculty really came together,” Karie Frank, division coordinator of the humanities division, said.

When the basement flooded, the art department professors allowed the music department to store instruments and music equipment in the art classrooms.
Miller said the humanities renovations show how far behind the building was.
“We have moved from one century to another in doing this,” he said.

Students agree that the renovations make the building seem more inviting. Senior Jake Grimm, a business administration major, said he noticed big differences from what the humanities used to look like.

“I think the biggest overall layout is the main hallway,” he said. “I feel like it’s more welcoming.”

Grimm also appreciates that the old classroom chairs are gone.

“[It was] miserable,” Grimm said. “Those chairs are not made for people beyond the third grade.”

Frank says that the humanities looks like a new building.

“We have a saying: ‘humanities is the best building on campus,’” Frank said. “And now it looks like it.”

The Board of Trustees will view the new changes to the humanities on Friday, Sept. 20.

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