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Renovations set to rock Shideler Hall's world

By Alexis DeBrunner
On February 11, 2014

After receiving $21 million from the state, Miami University has announced plans to renovate Shideler Hall renovation beginning fall semester of next year.

Shideler Hall, having received very little care since its construction in 1967, was chosen for the renovation project both for its desperate need of updating, and its ability to fit the state's educational needs, Assistant VP in Physical Facilities Cody Powell said.

"Because we have requested the funding from the state, and the state has criteria for evaluating the need of the funding, and the certain amount of the funding, they want to accomplish goals important to the state," Powell said. "Shideler was a good fit for those goals based on the number of undergraduate students in the building, and the ability it has to fit the employment needs of the state and STEM programming."

Ohio STEM programming works to support and create programs that encourage learning in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. Powell said because the state has limited funding, Shideler was a good fit because the departments teaching in the building fit STEM learning, and the structure itself was in need.

While the original capital request for funding the project was north of $22 million, the amount that was requested by the governor and is being moved forward through legislation is $21 million. Since the gifted amount was lower than originally requested, Powell said the university could be looking for alternate funding.

"We are going to try to get it done within the 21 million, but for whatever reason we are unable to do that and need to go beyond the 21 million, we will need to cover that locally through other funding sources," Powell said. "Other funding sources could include a variety of things; we could get gifts, or it could come through other capital renewal funds."

Professor Brian Currie from the Geology Department, whose offices reside in Shideler, said he thought the renovation was a great idea and would benefit the students who attend class there greatly.

"It's long over-due," Currie said. "It's almost 50 years old, and never gone through a major renovation. The growth that the geology and geography departments have experienced over the past decade are really constricted in terms of what we can do with teaching and research because of the building and its condition."

Currie said the classrooms in particular need to be brought into the modern era, and that teachers in Shideler are currently limited in terms of the individual classroom size.

"Some are too small, and some are too large to effectively teach our classes," Currie said. "Also, what really needs to be done is an effort to improve our computer labs. They just don't provide the space that they need to be effective to the students we are teaching."

The renovations Powell described all seem to address the needs Curri thought were most important. Powell said the building will be receiving a top-to-bottom rehabilitation, including all new mechanical and electrical systems, telecommunications, ADA accessibility upgrades for disabled students and faculty, and modernizing beyond the infrastructure to make sure it is conducive with today's teaching environment.

"One of the concerns is the lab safety in Shideler is outdated, and the safety of the students is important to us, so those types of things will modernized," Powell said. "We are moving to a more flexible state of the teaching environments and at the time it was not designed for that, the classes that are taught there need that kind of change."

Sophomores Shelby Rudloff and Laura Asbury, who have Sociology 135 in Shideler, said they thought the renovations were much needed and were going to make having class in the building more enjoyable.

"I think that it definitely needs it," Rudloff said. "I'm a psychology major so a lot of my classes are in the Psych building, which is obviously one of the newer buildings on campus, so it's very obvious to me when I walk into Shideler just how old it is."

Asbury said she hopes the renovations will include technological improvements in addition to some asthetic touch-ups.

"I know that our class in particular has been having a lot of clicker problems, so the renovation would be nice because it would fix those problems," Asbury said. "Also, the building just looks old, it could use some freshening up. It's nice to see the academic buildings getting updated now."

Powell said for many years, academic buildings were the main focus of university renovation projects, but in recent years, this attention has been turned to dining and resident halls.

"Probably 70 percent of our residence and dining halls were in a higher state of disrepair than we would like," Powell said. "We spent many years and millions of dollars addressing the academic side, and we have to continue with that, you can't just let it sit, but we did get behind on our residence halls so there is a plan now to address that situation."

The renovations are set to begin fall semester next year, but Powell said a lot of dominoes need to fall before that can happen. The current renovation project of Krieger Hall needs to be completed so that the Physics department in Culler Hall can move in there, in order to free up space to move the classes from Shideler into Culler.

Powell said moving everything from Shideler into Culler will allow teaching and research to continue while the building is being renovated; and, if everything falls into place, as it should, the Shideler renovation project will be completed by January 2016.


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