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Bachelor Hall to undergo complete renovation, housing new departments

Bachelor Hall's renovation causes  departments in Williams Hall to move from their building into the renovated one.
Bachelor Hall's renovation causes departments in Williams Hall to move from their building into the renovated one.

Bachelor Hall will be home to Miami University’s media, journalism and film (MJF), history, religion, English and philosophy departments starting in the fall of 2026. Renovations to the building will begin in the summer of 2024, taking two years to complete.

The building will be undergoing a complete renovation, providing students with additional study spaces, vending machines and open lounge seating.

Renée Baernstein, current senior associate dean and soon to be dean of the College of Arts and Science after June 1, is leading these renovations and has been involved in the planning process.

“We’ve been planning this renovation for two years and during those two years, I worked with the academic departments to understand their needs and what they wanted this new space to be like,” Baernstein said.

Bachelor Hall is one of the larger buildings on Miami’s campus and has not been renovated since its construction in 1978.

“This is a building that really was in dire need of repair,” Baernstein said.

There has been recent controversy regarding the humanities majors at Miami, with various programs, such as religion, being cut due to budgetary issues. The department proposed that instead of its current programs, they would offer a certificate.

Miami has recently invested a significant amount of money in the sciences, having done renovations to Pearson Hall and building the McVey Data Science Building. However, the upcoming renovations to Bachelor Hall will be focused on the humanities.

“It shows that we’re investing in these programs,” Baernstein said. “We’ve done a lot of STEM buildings lately, but we’re not only doing STEM.We’re investing in humanities because they bring really important, critical perspectives and transferable skills to all our students.”

After the renovations are complete, Baernstein said Bachelor Hall will be a strong environment for Miami students to focus on critical thinking, teamwork and communication. The renovation is expected to cost $72 million.

The MJF department is currently housed in Williams Hall. Bruce Drushel, department chair, said he doesn’t anticipate any negative changes with this renovation. He said in four years, Bachelor Hall will have stored the department for as long as all current students have been there.

“Everybody who has used Williams Hall up to this point obviously is going to be impacted,” Drushel said. “There’ll be a transition period for the students who will be here when we make the move.”

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According to the current plans, the equipment will be the same that is currently available at Williams Hall. There will still be a TV studio, editing suites and new classroom spaces. However, a lot of the classrooms will be shared with other departments.

While everything is planned out, Drushel said they are just plans and making it happen is out of Miami’s hands.

“It’s going to be up to the various architects and the various contractors to be able to turn this into a reality,” Drushel said.

Tara Pulit, a junior journalism and political science major, said she won’t be impacted by these changes directly as she will have graduated, but she doesn’t think the students still at Miami will be greatly affected, either.

“I don’t think it’ll have a huge effect on students, especially because there’s not a huge journalism major population on campus,” Pulit said. “I don’t think it'll disrupt a lot of campus.”

Pulit said her experience at Williams Hall has been OK, but she had a hard time finding good study areas in the building. Nevertheless, she said she likes the studio spaces available. She added that she thought her political science buildings were  in worse condition than Williams.

“If students can continue doing what they’re doing now, just in a different building,” Pulit said, “I don’t really think it’ll have a huge effect on journalism majors.”