Slippery Rock University students take advantage of the new learning amenities in Spotts Room 117. The University completed a number of aesthetic and structural improvements over the summer, with further improvements planned for the next two years.
Renovation transforms World Culture Building
Sept. 2, 2015
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Spotts World Culture Building's layout and décor haven't earned many "wows" over the years.
But now, it is undergoing a metamorphosis with spots of color in unlikely spaces.
Slippery Rock University has begun a two-year renovation to change the Spotts' experience through the dynamic use of color, new furniture and new classroom configurations. Painting, classroom reconfiguration, adding new technology and work on installing quieter heating and air conditioning began this summer and will continue for two years.
The "new" Spotts breaks with tradition; cinderblock classroom walls have been painted an earthy orange to stimulate enthusiasm and creativity. New furniture and technology has been added. And, in a nod to minimizing logjams in the hallways, the former classroom doors have been replaced with doors that open inward rather than outward.
The initial step toward upgrading the building began in 2013 when SRU removed the pedestrian bridge. Other work has included asbestos abatement.
"In the process of planning for the renovations, the structural engineers discovered a problem with one of the walls, which we have addressed," Cheryl Norton, SRU president said. ""Right now, it's not a pretty solution, but it is functional and insures the building is 100 percent safe for occupancy."
"The temporary fix will allow us to use the building while the architects, engineers and designers work on a permanent 'learner friendly' solution," she said.
Despite Spotts being a work in progress, users have been pleased with the progress to date, Way said.
"What's amazing is I have had people stop me and say they really appreciate what we've done to the building and how improved it is," said Philip Way, provost and vice president for academic and student affairs.
"I even got positive comments from students before school started," Way said. "Students who had gone around to check out where they had classes said to me, when I was at Weekend of Welcome, how nice classrooms looked in that building. I haven't had comments like that about Spotts since I came here."
"Some people have been astonished at some of the colors, but hey, we want people to stay awake during class," Way said with a laugh.
Spotts houses the departments of English, history, philosophy, political science, interdisciplinary programs and the Office of Global Initiatives. Way said the renovation will eventually enable SRU to consolidate the College of Liberal Studies, including the dean's office, into Spotts.
Danette DiMarco, professor of English and department chair, said the classroom renovations and furniture are very nice.
"Classrooms have been changed to a landscape orientation," she said. "Several new whiteboards are on the walls, and the technology is less cumbersome and more intuitive."
Professors do not have to use remotes to turn on projectors but can click the mouse and select from the computer screen.
"When faculty in the building indicated that they needed to have a computer lab for instruction, Mary Ann King and IT worked diligently to make that happen," she said. "Students taking 'Critical Writing' now have the benefit of that, which is important since we lost the space on the third floor. The computer lab has new equipment, new tables, new chairs - and it looks fabulous."
"We await the total renovation of the building of course," she said. "Right now we are jockeying for rooms in other buildings for our Spring 2016 schedule. But we are pleased with the efforts to create a nicer environment for both students and faculty."
Lia Paridis, associate professor of history and department chair, said, "Faculty have commented that Spotts 113 will be a more pleasant room to teach in now that the students and the instructor are closer to each other and the look of the room is so much brighter," she said.
"The classroom that the history department is using this semester has been equipped with new technology," she said. "The projectors are now interactive so that a faculty member can emphasize something in a PowerPoint or film clip, using their finger or a stylus to draw directly onto the projected image. It will be interesting to see how faculty will incorporate this new tool into their pedagogy."
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