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Tuesday, Sep 21, 2021

Renovations in the works for Connell and library

Renovation proposals are currently being discussed for the Connell Student Center old Co-op and 24 hour room.
On March 26, Carrie Ingoldsby, Director of Campus Life and Student Involvement, and Dr. Steve Brown, Associate Dean of Student Services, discussed proposed renovations of the Connell Student Center to the combined class sections of Technical Communication 341 at a conference in the Science and Engineering Building.
Dr. Brown and Ingoldsby, respectively are interested in moving the post office from the second floor of the Connell Student Center to the first floor, where the Admission offices currently reside.
The Admissions office move is still tentative, but proposals are being drafted in anticipation.
The space left by the Admission Offices provides ground level access to mail trucks, allowing mail to be sorted and delivered to boxes without moving between floors.
The extra space will also allow enough room for Mail and Document Services to be moved from the Auxiliary building, allowing all mail services to be in one building.
“It is conceptual at this point,” said Dr. Brown. “We’re all waiting for the puff of white smoke.”
Another separate proposal is to be drafted, prompted by Ingoldsby.
By using the extra space left behind by the post office and mail room on the second floor of the Connell Student Center, Ingoldsby hopes to renovate the Co-op into an open, flowing, modern design.
Aramark paid to have the cafeteria renovated and the exterior of the Connell Student Center was painted last year.
The old Co-op has not been renovated since the 1970’s and Ingoldsby said the wood paneling is showing its age.
From the construction of the Connell Student Center to the opening of the University Center in 2004, the old co-op was the hub of student life. It provided a casual eating and meeting area for students.
“The old co-op was the center of academic activity where students and faculty came together,” Brown said.
Since the opening of the University Center, use of the co-op has gone down.
According to a worker from Mercer’s  physical plant department, Connell Student Center was built in 1959.
The biggest obstacle to any renovation is asbestos, a common construction material in buildings built before the 1980’s.
“The student center is full of asbestos,” Brown said.
A worker from the physical plant confirmed that asbestos was in the tiles of the floor, the glue for the tiles, glaze on the windows, and in the walls of the building.
Rather than draw from the project’s  proposed budget of $110,000 to finance the removable of the harmful material, Campus Life wants to mount drywall over the wood paneling in the Connell Student Center.
Design goals for the renovation include spaces for students and campus organizations to meet and an open computer lab.
Provided that the post office is moved, the co-op would also have access to the adjacent concrete patio. Most of the proposed design is to be determined by the students’ drafts in the coming weeks.
However, clients are under no obligation to follow students’ specific plans.
Technical Communication 341 students are also drafting a proposal for an expansion of the 24 hour study room in the ground floor of the Tarver Library.
The specifications were given to students by Janet Van Bibber, Circulation Manager for Jack Tarver Library.
“It is not uncommon at midnight, and through the night, for the place to pack out,” said Van Bibber. “We need space.”
The 24-hour study room is currently 1,740 square feet with six group study rooms.
Her specifications call for expanding into the first floor library bringing the total size of the room to 2,440 square feet.
The plans also call for the installation of another wireless access point and an additional camera.
The proposed budget for the renovation is $50,000.


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