With the background chatter of hungry students below and the bustle of the various offices housed there, the second floor of Haggar can seem like a world of its own. Last semester, it seemed that the world was due for some change.
As was covered in the April 10, 2019, edition of The University News, administrators had been planning renovations to the counseling, Campus Ministry and health services wing. In April, the proposed changes involved repurposing the space currently taken up by the McDermott suite, which is housing for visiting professors.
Those plans, however, have been suspended. When asked about the reason for the suspension, Dr. Lora Rodriguez, who works in the health clinic, explained that the faculty involved in the planning process “could not find a change in the space that was going to be in the budget that we had and accomplish what we needed to.”
They ran into problems concerning the arrangement and distribution of the area.
“Every time we tried changing the space around, somebody would get shorted space when … there should be enough space for everyone,” said Rodriguez.
Julia Carrano, the new Dean of Students, explained the decision-making process behind whether to renovate — or not — the offices of upstairs Haggar.
“In general, … we have a committee that looks at use of space,” Carrano said. “There’s also someone in the Provost office that looks at use of space and on top of that, there’s … John Plotts, [who] oversees facilities, so it’s usually going to be a collaborative effort.”
As she has only been a part of the administration since July 15, she qualified her statements saying, “obviously it’s difficult for me, having just started, to know exactly what the process [is like].”
Although there was talk that the “plans [would] be finalized by graduation” in the April 2019 article, Rodriguez said she believes faculty was told about the suspension “sometime towards the beginning of summer.”
Rodriguez described how the extra space would have been beneficial, saying that “the biggest issue was that the counseling services needed more space.”
The counseling center now has four counselors, the most it has ever had, and even with staggered schedules, they struggle to find space for their work, Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez noted that the health clinic would benefit from more space, also, calling the area “cramped.”
“We’d like to have a bigger waiting room so that the people are not sitting on top of each other, potentially sharing their germs,” Rodriguez said. “And we want a door.”
Faculty of upstairs Haggar are still hopeful that they might get better space.
Rodriguez added that while there are “a lot of wishes and hopes and needs,” there is always a benefit to having extra time for consideration.
It appears unlikely that the renovation plans will be put back in the works any time soon. Carrano stated that she does not know whether the original plan will be completed. One possibility is that the counseling center will be moved to another location.
“[There is] usable space … and my understanding is that it will probably remain this way at least for the year,” Carrano said.
In the meantime, to accommodate the counselors without offices, administrators have “temporarily turned the McDermott suite into two more counseling spaces,” explained Rodriguez.
“The McDermott suite [has] moved to the student apartments, which is where it is currently,” Carrabi said of the changes to the McDermott suite.
In the former McDermott suite, a wall has been placed to create two new counseling offices. Carrano described the spaces as “much more conducive to actually … sitting and talking.”
Ultimately, any changes should, as Rodriguez said, “give us the ability to take care of people better.”