Diversity offices hope for new home

Klaeber Court is not designed to house student services offices, directors said.

Jamie VanGeest

Coffman Union Theater, the University Bookstore and Jamba Juice are more centrally located than some notable University offices.

The importance of diversity often is stressed by the University. But some key offices that focus on diversity are on the outskirts of campus.

The Office of University Women, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Programs office and the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence are in Klaeber Court on 16th Avenue Southeast. The building is closer to the Dinkydome than it is to Coffman Union, which is known to many as the center of campus life.

“It’s not ideal to be across the street from campus located in fraternity row,” said Claire Walter Marchetti, director of the Office of University Women, who added that the office is making the best of its location.

The office provides educational enrichment programs, leadership development and service learning opportunities for female students. It also serves to create and maintain a respectful climate for women.

The location of the Office for University Women does seem to marginalize the program somewhat, Marchetti said, but the three offices have tried to make the building more of a community.

These three offices are on the outskirts of campus to consolidate student services, said Patrick Troup, director of the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence.

The purpose of the center is to increase access, graduation rates and academic success and retention for multicultural students at the University. The center provides tutoring, study groups and a computer lab.

The location of Klaeber Court isn’t the only obstacle. The building isn’t set up to be a student services building.

The building mainly is made up of small offices without a lot of open space, Troup said. Also, Klaeber Court doesn’t have a welcoming appearance, he said.

“Just being centrally located, students will be more comfortable accessing the services because it is a bit of a hike to get over here,” he said.

Anne Phibbs, the University’s systemwide director of GLBT programs, said she enjoys sharing space with the Office of University Women and Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence, but wishes her office were in a more prominent spot.

“So many people don’t know where Klaeber Court is; they have to take the time to find it, which makes them less likely to drop by,” Phibbs said.

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Programs office works to improving campus climate for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people at the University and to address the harmful effects of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identification.

All three office directors in Klaeber Court have heard the offices might be moved to a more central location in two or three years. Troup said the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence might be moved to a new science building or into Appleby Hall after the General College closes.

According to Lincoln Kallsen, the University’s director of financial research, the University does not have any official plans to move the programs at this time.

“We continue to look for ways to bring those units closer to campus, but there is not an approved plan at this time,” Kallsen said.

If the offices are moved, Phibbs said she has a strong desire for all three offices to be in the same new location.

“We are all about serving and dealing with issues of diversity and student life, so that connection to me is an important one,” she said.