Campus renovations affect daily operations

by Allison Wickler

Renovation projects usually result in safer, better-equipped facilities, but the process can cause headaches for those affected – especially if their office is moved to a gymnasium.

While the renovation of Kolthoff Hall, which began in June, will add more fume hoods and improve the ventilation system to bring the building up to code, the process affects operations in the University chemistry department and in students’ everyday lives.

The office for first-year graduate chemistry students, many of whom are teaching assistants, has already moved to the gym in Norris Hall.

And some advanced chemistry labs will move to the St. Paul campus beginning next semester, according to the first Kolthoff renovation report by the department.

Chuck Tomlinson, assistant to the vice chairman of the chemistry department, said some labs next semester will also have fewer seats because of limited space.

The department has undertaken an extensive planning process, including creating a renovation committee to make sure adequate resources will be available for students, faculty and staff, said Jeff Roberts, chemistry professor and department chair.

“It was a huge concern for us that the renovation project is going to disrupt the students,” he said.

Roberts also said the renovation is being done in phases to minimize the amount of unusable space at one time.

Kandace Schuft, a biology, society and environment sophomore who has a chemistry class this semester, said leaving for class on time would be a problem if her lab were there. Her unfamiliarity with the St. Paul campus would further complicate matters, she said.

Elementary education junior Clara Kohlmeier, who’s also taking chemistry this fall, said she has never had to ride to the St. Paul campus before.

“I think it would definitely make people not want to go,” she said.

Chemistry professor Kent Mann, who will teach an advanced inorganic chemistry lab in St. Paul next semester, said he foresees some problems with transportation because most of the students will have their other classes on the Minneapolis campus.

But Mann said this was the only way to resolve the situation, and that his students will still have access to the instruments and computer networks they need.

“The alternative would be to not have the classes, which would screw up a lot of people in terms of graduating,” he said.

Chemistry teaching assistant Erin Arndt said it could now be more difficult for students to meet with their teaching assistants because Norris Hall is farther from Kolthoff and Smith halls.

“I do think it will put a damper on things,” she said. “Students are familiar with the tutor center in Smith Hall.”

Journalism sophomore Emily Jolly, who has a class in Kolthoff near the construction, said sometimes the project is noticeable.

“Every now and then there’s a loud buzzing that’s distracting during lecture,” she said.

Other students, such as Greek and Latin junior Joe McDonald, said they haven’t been bothered.

The Kolthoff renovation project is set for completion in February 2008.