MU's Tate and Switzler halls prepare for renovations

Monday, October 19, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — MU teaching faculty members, staff, graduate students and classes housed in Tate and Switzler halls are in the process of moving out due to renovations planned for the two buildings.

Both Tate and Switzler will be gutted, Arts and Science Dean Michael O’Brien said. Among other things, the buildings will be updated with new elevators, modern heating and cooling systems, state-of-the-art technology in the classrooms and better specifications for handicapped access. Also, all asbestos will be removed from the buildings.

“I think the faculty will be pleased when they move back in,” O’Brien said. “People are looking forward to it.”

But that could be awhile. Renovations are scheduled to be done by July 2011.

O’Brien said the Tate and Switzler renovations will cost $9 million and $5 million, respectively.

Tate Hall, west of Ellis Library and near the bend of Conley Avenue and Ninth Street, houses the English department, which has about 63 teaching faculty members and 84 graduate student teachers, said English professor Al Devlin. Faculty and staff are in the midst of moving to McReynolds Hall, where Devlin said they likely will be for about two years.

McReynolds, west of Peace Park on the northwest side of campus, is typically used as swing space, O’Brien said.

Workers have been busy for weeks hauling furniture and boxes out of Tate and loading them into moving trucks.

“My impression is that this is a very complicated move made with minimum inconvenience,” Devlin said. “On the whole, it has been pretty well orchestrated.”

Classrooms in Tate will close soon, except for Room 22, a large auditorium that will remain open through December for final exams, O’Brien said. The remaining classes will be relocated to various places on campus.

Thomas Musser, a senior English major who attends class in Tate, said he is glad the building is going to be renovated.

“It’s a good idea,” Musser said. “It’s good to see the English department get a cut of the action.”

The communication department and special degree programs are in Switzler Hall, which was built in 1871, making it the oldest classroom building on campus. Both departments plan to move out during the week of Nov. 9-13, but classes will remain in Switzler until Nov. 20, said Michael Kramer, chairman of the communication department. The departments and classes housed in Switzler, on the northwest side of Francis Quadrangle, will relocate to the Heinkel Building on Seventh Street until renovations are complete.

About 14 teaching faculty members and 30 graduate students will be displaced from Switzler Hall.

“We’re very excited for the renovations,” Kramer said. “The idea of the temporary space will be challenging, but the building is badly in need of renovation.”

Kramer said the renovations will help the communication department look more like a quality program, which will in turn help with recruiting new faculty members.

The renovations are funded by bonds the University of Missouri System issued that total more than $332 million. Of that amount, $35 million was allocated for “critical repairs, renovations and adaptations” of buildings throughout the system, according to a UM System news release.

Both halls have been near the top of the capital review list for many years, O’Brien said. The list ranks buildings by those that are most in need of renovations.

Campus Facilities will remove everything that can be recycled to make the project as “green” as possible.

O’Brien said the renovations will not diminish the historical integrity of the buildings. Architectural details such as the arched windows will not be altered.

Devlin said he was asked by Pat Okker, chairwoman of the English department, to collate e-mails from faculty members that included recommendations and priorities regarding the renovation.

The first priority of English department faculty is better teaching space, Devlin said. Many professors want smaller seminar-style rooms in Tate that would reflect the particular curriculum of the department. These rooms would be ideal for capstone courses, graduate seminars and creative writing courses.

Another priority of faculty members is the creation of communal meeting spaces where students can meet with other students and professors. As of now, Devlin said, there are only small, cramped corridors for students to meet in.

The third priority is to preserve the historical character of the building.

Devlin said Dean O’Brien has met with the English department faculty and was receptive to their concerns and recommendations.

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