Building renovations would make more space for classes
By Sabrina Carinci
A $4.4 million industrial facelift was the topic of conversation at a general information meeting yesterday morning at the Great Hall.
Greg Moran, VP-academic at Western, said the space reconfiguration would take place mostly in Somerville House, although it would have a domino effect on buildings such as Elborn College, Talbot College and even the McIntosh Gallery.
Funding for the proposed renovations would come from a number of sources, including the government-initiated Access To Opportunities Program, a capital reserve, which is used for emergency projects and deferred maintainance funds, Moran said.
The initiation of the reconfiguration would create four large classrooms, six seminar rooms, computer laboratory space and approximately 20,000 square feet of new teaching space.
The first of two main reasons for this project, according to Moran, is efficiency. It is important because the university does not have enough money to construct a new building, so the project would solve the problem of deferred maintenance around campus, he said.
The second reason is the project would solve the problem regarding the university's need for more academic space. Moran said this point was shamefully evident at the beginning of the year when a class was cancelled due to the lack of a suitable size classroom.
"We need space to run the programs," Moran said. He added the university is expecting large increases in programs such as honours business administration, media, information and technoculture and engineering science.
Susan Grindrod, senior director of housing and ancillary services, said she was concerned about the manner in which university staff had been made aware of the moves which will result from the renovations. She said staff and faculty had not been asked what they needed, but rather told what will become of their present office spaces.
In response, Peter Mercer, VP-administration at Western, said he understands the administration has asked a lot from staff and faculty. "Susan's comment brings up the fact that this process is not perfect," he said.
Moran said the project proposal will be discussed in Senate next week. He hopes the first stages of renovation will start by January.
Peter Hill, VP-campus issues for the University Students' Council, said although the plan is in its preliminary stages, the need for classrooms is evident. "An increase in classroom space can only benefit students and availability of courses. At this point, we'd support it."