Folwell interior updates wanted

The state Legislature bonding committee visited projects on the University’s capital request list.

by Emma Carew

All Folwell Hall wants for its 100th birthday this year is $26 million.

The state Legislature bonding committee will visit campus today to review the projects on the University’s 2008 capital request list.

Students and the College of Liberal Arts faculty have been working to garner support for the renovation of Folwell Hall, Sue Banovetz, director of media and public relations for CLA, said.

The University is requesting money from the state bonding bill to increase the instructional space and fund a complete interior overhaul of the building, she said.

“Folwell was built in 1907 and it’s one of the oldest buildings at the Twin Cities campus,” Banovetz said. “Last year Folwell served almost 12,000 students.”

Folwell Hall is currently home to 19 language departments and is the largest language learning center in the state, she said.

After the renovations, the newly formed department of writing studies will be housed in Folwell Hall as well.

The students who take classes in Folwell need a space that lends itself to “digital, global and collaborative” work, Laura Gurak, department of writing studies chairwoman, said.

“We think it will be a great way to prepare students for working and being citizens in this century,” she said. “Everything is going to be very high-tech, working across borders and working across cultures.”

The University has been successful in the past in securing funds for the restoration of historical buildings on campus.

Nicholson Hall was recently updated with funds from the 2002 bonding bill, CLA Associate Dean for Space Planning Mark Pharis said.

The Folwell renovations would be similar to Nicholson Hall, which was completed in 2005, he said.

The funds from the state would be added to another $13 million from the University, Pharis said.

New ventilation systems, air conditioning and heating, new classroom and office spaces and updated technology inside the building would all be included in the renovations.

“The nature of language instruction has changed and requires new technology,” Pharis said. “(Folwell) is out of date; the classrooms are out of date.”

Interim CLA Dean Jim Parente, a former professor in the German, Scandinavian and Dutch department, said the current conditions of Folwell Hall are “very difficult to engage in language instruction.”

The new building would allow for a “higher level of multimedia types of instruction,” he said.

Parente said he has been working with Banovetz to get faculty and students involved in “making this a priority and bringing this forward.”

“The faculty in Folwell have been waiting for a long time for an interior renovation,” he said.

Seijen Takamura, a French studies and advertising senior who co-edits the student newsletter for the department of French and Italian studies, is one of the students who is helping out.

Takamura said when he took classes in Folwell, his class was shuffled from classroom to classroom on a regular basis in order to share the limited technological resources.

Takamura said the newsletter, Culture Shock, will include a call to action for students to write letters to legislators to raise support for Folwell Hall in its next issue.

“For how intricate and immaculate (Folwell) is on the outside, inside it’s kind of a disappointment,” he said of the building’s physical structure.

Sen. Keith Langseth, chairman of the bonding committee, said today’s visit is for members of the committee to learn about the projects on the University’s capital request.

The committee will tour other facilities within the University and other Minnesota State Colleges and Universities over the next few weeks, he said, and afterward “that’s when we start sitting down and see what the possibilities are.”