Henderson Hall faces summer, fall renovations

Students expecting to have class in Henderson Hall in the summer and fall will be meeting elsewhere. Henderson Hall will undergo a renovation that will begin this summer and continue into the fall semester.

“There won’t be classes in [Henderson Hall] during the summer,” said Kurt Eisen, College of Arts and Sciences associate dean, “and it’s also been decided that classes won’t meet in [Henderson Hall] during the fall semester.”

Students will still register for classes like usual, but a class that would be located in Henderson Hall will now meet in a different building.

“We had to be creative in finding teaching spaces,” Eisen said. “With help from other departments and colleges, [the fall semester] looks okay so far. If we need more sections because we have more students, then the challenge will remain to find spaces.”

The primary reason for renovating Henderson Hall is that the building has no sprinkler system. Also, the roof and fan coil units that provide heating and air conditioning in classrooms and faculty offices are being replaced.

“The problem with this building from a safety point of view is the open stairwells,” Eisen said. “Because it has open stairwells, it’s considered a fire hazard.”

According to Eisen, open stairwells are considered fire hazards because the fire can travel from floor to floor more readily. As a result, the seating capacities have to be at the low end of what the code allows, but the sprinkler system should help with that.

“If a classroom has a certain number of seats,” said Glenn Binkley, Facilities and Business Services associate vice president, “then when the classroom is full, another desk can’t be added. They must stay within the [maximum] number of seats.”

The diminished class size could cause a major problem coming back into Henderson Hall after the remodel is complete.

Classrooms will only be allowed one student per 20 square feet. Where most classes held 40 students before, the building will have only 25-30 students per classroom.

A smaller classroom could enhance the learning experience. When surveyed, several classrooms were given a “C” rating on an A-F grading scale because there wasn’t an opportunity for collaborative learning.

Currently, each classroom has a different level of technology. Some have PowerPoint, while others still have projectors. Some classrooms still have chalkboards.

“The plan is to standardize the technology in all the rooms,” Eisen said, “so you don’t have to figure out the technology when you go from one room to the next.”

Though the classrooms won’t be used, the faculty offices will remain open.

Because the after-hours computer lab in Henderson Hall will be closed for the renovation, another computer lab will be opened temporarily in its place. The temporary lab location was undecided as of deadline.

The renovation is expected to be finished before the fall semester is over, but it’s likely that students will remain in the classrooms in which they began the semester.