Campus improvements enhance learning environment

Changes made to campus over the summer included the new math computer lab.  (Photo by Tina Nalepa)
Changes made to campus over the summer included the new math computer lab. (Photo by Tina Nalepa)

Tina Nalepa Arts Editor

This summer, Wolfe Hall got a modern addition, geared for the math department. “The Math Lab,” the unofficial name for the new computer lab, is located on the ground floor of Wolfe Hall. The lab includes a glass test center, new floors, new walls, new Apple computers, round tables and several flat screen TVs.

Last year, Senior Advancement Officer Kathy Urner-Jones ’83 wrote a grant to the George I. Alden Trust. Alden Trust decided to support the grant this past spring and went to Marc Fournier, Director of Plant Operations and Sustainability, and Kate O’Connor, Vice President for Enrollment Management, to go forth with the project.

The name of the lab is still under discussion, however the math department and Vice President Jim Ostrow think the name “The Interactive Learning Lab” works best for the space. Making the name of the lab more generic will offer more disciplines the ability to access the space.

The main purpose of the lab is to host Math 106 (Algebraic Operations), which has 14 sections this semester with approximately 410 students enrolled in the course. Every student enrolled in the course works on an online math program at their own pace, as an instructor and teaching assistant are there to help.

This semester, Professor of Mathematics Neil Hatem has seven teaching assistants including Blair Schneider, Shelby Szczesiul, Alex Poirier, Danielle Varnuum, Alana Ricci, Olivia Case, and Megan Croce, all of which are education majors or math majors or minors.

“The math lab is great students have the opportunity to take test in a quiet glass room if need be, the room also includes wall to wall whiteboards, which are great for showing example problems,” said junior Shelby Szczesiul. “Overall everything in the room is very resourceful for the students and is a great new resource to the math department.”

According to Hatem, it seems everyone is enjoying the new space and modern way of teaching.

“The first years are definitely benefiting from this class,” said junior Blair Schneider. “A lot of them were skeptical at first about the fact that it is an online, self-paced course, but the majority have gotten used to the online format and have realized that there are plenty of resources available to help them if they have questions.”

“It’s really cool that we get to be the first to use the brand new Mac computers and the room looks really nice overall,” said first-year student Michaela Giandello. “I also like how the class itself is online and we get to move at our own pace.”

Another renovation that began this past summer included part one of a two-part phase at the Stoller Boathouse. The renovation included repainting of the interior and exterior, new glass windows for the garage, eliminating the old cone racks, adding a new sign, lighting the addition of a classroom and a lab and an overall reorganization of the space.

The landscape of the boathouse was also renovated with native plants including blueberry, winterberry, and mountain laurel.

Fournier explained Kim Farah, professor of chemistry, Chris Haverty, professor of exercise science, and Michael Daley, professor of environmental science, have all agreed to begin holding classes in the boathouse in the spring of 2015.

According to Fournier, the college will be offering a shuttle to and from the college to the boathouse for students to participate in these classes.

“My dream was to renovate the boathouse for students to utilize the river and the overall space. My long term dream is to rebuild the boathouse into a two story building where the first floor would hold the cones and rowing equipment and the second floor would hold classrooms and labs for the college,” said Fournier.

As phase two is still underway with ideas for the future to better benefit the students, the college has partnered with Education Alliance to fund grants to help in the next phase in renovating the space as well as help in developing programs for the students.

Finally, the hours of the gym have been extended to accommodate students’ needs.

Director of Athletics Kristy Walter said, “SGA came to me with a proposal about extending the hours. I worked with two members from SGA, last semester and this semester we were able to implement it. The additional hours seem to be working out well and we are seeing usage during the extended time.”

In Edwards Fitness Center the hours are: Monday-Thursday 7:00 a.m.–12:00 a.m.; Friday 7:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.; Saturday 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.; and Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The McClelland gym hours are: Monday-Thursday 7: 00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.; Friday 7:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m.; Saturday 12:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m.; and Sunday 12:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.

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