Social work school unites on

Amy Olson

After years of negotiating multiple buildings on two campuses, two parts of the School of Social Work look forward to celebrating the millennium by moving in together.
McNeal Hall on the St. Paul campus currently houses half of the school; the other half resides in Ford Hall on the East Bank. Between now and December, the school will be housed in temporary space.
The school will permanently move into Peters Hall in December 1999 at the earliest. Plans to renovate Peters Hall began before University President Mark Yudof outlined his legislative bonding request shortly after he took office in July 1997. Jean Quam, director of the School of Social Work, said the Peters Hall renovation project was folded into the overall budget request.
Yudof’s capital bonding request this spring garnered $242.8 million for building construction and improvements. In a July letter outlining the renovations, Yudof said the University will vacate nearly 517,000 square feet, or roughly 80 percent of the space the College of Liberal Arts occupies, during the construction period.
Quam said the school’s schism occurred after the school was transferred from CLA to the College of Human Ecology in 1983. At that time, the school held classes in buildings on the East and West banks.
The Peters Hall renovation, which started this spring, set off what Quam called a “chain reaction,” of four departments moving from their spaces.
Currently, the Department of Animal Science occupies Peters Hall and half of Haecker Hall. The Department of Rhetoric, which occupied the other half of Haecker Hall, moved to space in the Classroom Office Building formerly used by part of the School of Social Work.
While the school will have to endure cramped quarters initially, Quam said the 50 social work faculty members are willing to double up in offices until the school moves into Peters Hall.
Facilities Management spokesman Tim Busse said the Peters Hall renovations are expected to cost about $6.9 million.
In order for the project to begin, however, Facilities Management had to complete the scheduled renovations on Haecker Hall on the St. Paul campus. Faculty members in the animal science department were then able to move into their new building.
Michaeleen Fox, the University’s space and facilities coordinator, said Haecker Hall was nearly gutted during the renovations. The construction workers built new interior walls to create more space-efficient offices and laboratories.
During the renovations, Fox said the laboratories were also updated with state-of-the-art technology, and the building was remodeled to meet the fire codes. The construction included the addition of an elevator and wider bathroom stalls to meet requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Fox said the renovations of Haecker Hall will be completed in the next few weeks, allowing the animal science department to move in before fall classes begin. Peters Hall will remain vacant while the interior walls are torn down and replaced to create office space and several classrooms equipped with television cameras for the social work school’s distance education classes.
“It’s exciting, seeing all the changes in the core of campus,” Fox said.
After the school has finished moving into its new home, Quam said the school’s old space in McNeal Hall will go to another department within the College of Human Ecology.