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Student-focused renovations under way

June 21, 2010

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University recently held groundbreaking ceremonies for construction of a new Sangren Hall as well as a new apartment complex. But, work on a variety of smaller projects is going on around campus this summer.

Current projects include mini-renovations of the Bernhard Center and Ellsworth Hall. Those two high-traffic campus buildings are undergoing mini-renovations to improve student services and enhance the University's recruitment and retention efforts.

The Bernhard Center is located at the center of West Campus and serves as WMU's student union as well as a key site for holding major public events. Dedicated in 1957, the 239,464-square-foot building contains a such facilities and services as a computer lab, commercial stores, eateries, 23 large and small meeting rooms, and Registered Student Organization offices.

Ellsworth Hall was built in 1956 as a men's residence hall. After a fire in the 1970's, the 90,000-square-foot facility was closed as a residential building and reopened as an office building. The hall's third floor was vacated in 2005, when the offices there moved to the new Health and Human Services Building. A small portion of the third floor was remodeled in 2009 to house about 10 Haenicke Institute offices.

Bernhard Center improvements

Work in the Bernhard Center is adding functionality to some rooms and refreshing other areas just in time for summer orientation. Phase I of the project entailed renovating the center's main entrance and stairwell and was completed June 2. Phase II, remodeling of the entire first floor, will be done by mid-August.

"In the last couple of years, we've put millions of dollars into things like chilling towers and a new roof, but that's not what people see. Now we're doing the more visible stuff," says Mitchell Beare, Bernhard Center manager. "This building is used for a lot of events for prospective students and their parents. They think it reflects what's in our classrooms. We need to update the look, lighting and equipment, so it serves as a showcase facility for recruiting."

Most of the remodeling being done on the center's first floor involves updating furniture, floors and wall paint in the lobby and lounge areas; upgrading rooms 105-7, 158-9 and the President's Dining Room; and renovating all restrooms. In addition, Room 157 will be outfitted with new audio and video equipment. The room is primarily used for meetings, and is the campus location for most meetings of the WMU Board of Trustees.

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Ellsworth Hall improvements

Phase I of Ellsworth Hall's two-phase mini-renovation was completed in May when remodeling of the third floor was completed and Extended University Programs moved into the revitalized space.

Phase II of the project, readying the vacated first-floor offices to house the Center for Academic Success Programs, will continue into August.

Extended University Programs

EUP is now putting the finishing touches on its revitalized space, including installing appropriate signage as well as photos of the WMU's regional sites. The unit is planning a grand opening ceremony this fall to show off its new digs, which sports updated paint, carpeting, lighting and ceiling tiles.

"Our relocation will improve program delivery because we now have a lab where faculty can come and learn about using technology, regardless of whether course instruction is taking place on campus, online or at regional sites," says Dawn Gaymer, EUP dean. "And we now have dedicated space for welcoming students and getting them quickly and efficiently to where they need to go."

The new E-learning Resources Lab serves as a place where students enrolled in online courses can get help with their special projects and where faculty can meet with instructional design staff members to explore technologies related to learning and how to incorporate those technologies into their curricula.

Meanwhile, the welcome center staff receives visitors and directs them to where they need to go. For students, this is often the General University Studies advisor or Online Education unit's proctored testing room, which includes secure lockers for students' belongings while they are completing tests.

Only one existing EUP facility remains on the first floor--the Compressed Video Interactive Television Classroom in 1354. The proctored testing room has moved to 3202.

For more information, contact EUP's Amy Routhier at amy.routhier@wmich.edu or (269) 387-1552.

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Center for Academic Success Programs

Once Ellsworth's first-floor renovations are done in mid-August, the Center for Academic Success Programs will relocate there from Moore Hall.
The relocation will allow CASP to house all of its services under one roof and in a centrally located building that's close to the student services and resources available in the Bernhard Center as well as in Ellsworth.

One CASP unit already has moved to Ellsworth--the Advocacy Office for Transfer Students and Military Affairs. Randy Ott, CASP director, says plans call for that office to be split into the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Office of Transfer Student Services.

"Increasingly within the past year, WMU has seen the needs of the two populations that office serves increase and diversify," Ott says. "Separating them into two new offices will allow for targeted efforts and programs that will better meet the needs of each population."

A slight restructuring also is taking place in two other units, which will undergo name changes but not see any phone numbers change. The Academic Skills Center will be renamed Academic Resource Center while University Curriculum will be renamed Exploratory Advising.

"The Academic Resource Center is the primary office providing academic tutoring and supplemental instruction for students throughout WMU," Ott explains. "The name change came from suggestions from students and makes it clear that the center is a student resource that focuses on more than basic skills."

Ott adds that students also helped select the new name for University Curriculum, which serves students who enter WMU not having declared a major and want to explore their options.

"After researching national trends and getting input from our undeclared students, we settled on Exploratory Advising because the name says what the staff within this area do," Ott says. "The staff works with students to choose classes that meet WMU's general education requirements and might fall into particular career areas the students are interested in."

For more information about the CASP move or reorganization, contact Randy Ott, CASP director, at randy.ott@wmich.edu or (269) 387-4413.

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Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400