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  • Sydney Umstead

Old Main to undergo renovations

By: Sydney Umstead, News Editor

Beginning in the summer of 2024, the campus building, Old Main, will undergo a series of renovations. The drafted plan is set to go floor-by-floor to make modifications to the building as part of the strategic plan that was unveiled during the 2023 fall semester. 

Around the room were different options and plans for what the new renovations could look like. One image showcased the design for Old Main’s second floor, which will be the first to be remodeled. 

With the loss of Lyons Hall, Old Main has become the first look at Canisius University for incoming students or future applicants. It was pointed out that there has not been an investment towards the physical plan of Canisius for some time before these incoming updates.

The reimagined second floor of Old Main featured a brighter corridor with a larger lounge space and an illuminated sign indicating that area.

The goal of these renovations in its relation to the strategic plan is to remedy the lower incoming class sizes.

One attendee of the event asked whether or not the infrastructure of Old Main is turning students away from attending Canisius. While the gathered data from students who chose not to attend Canisius is restrained in what it can represent, the campus environment has apparently been compared to other colleges and universities such as St. John Fisher. Meanwhile, internal data potentially points to the fact that campus visits yield fewer students who come to campus. 

Old Main becoming the hub for campus tours has also proven difficult when potential students sit in the classrooms during preview days and attempt to envision themselves at Canisius for the next four years. The purpose of these drafted plans is an act of “framing [the] art of the possible,” as Stoute put it. 

It was noted that the number one reason given for a person’s choice not to attend Canisius is typically the cost of attendance. 

When opening up the conversation surrounding the revisions, President Stoute asked attendees for their thoughts on the upcoming provisions. One faculty member in attendance had unanimously polled other professors to gather their thoughts about what changes could be made to Old Main. The poll was shared with The Griffin upon request.

The poll suggests that the majority of the faculty who responded to the survey are full-time employees at the university. Moreover, the data indicates that 61.5% of the responders primarily teach in Old Main.

In terms of classroom layout and functionality, the graph indicates that a large discrepancy professors have in the classroom is unsatisfactory temperate levels. The current state of accessibility to outlets also scored higher in the category of unsatisfactory compared to the other options of adequate and satisfactory. 

The category of classroom layout featured the majority saying that they would prefer chairs with moveable tables. 

Dr. Jonathan D. Lawrence, associate professor of religious studies and theology, as well as president of the Canisius faculty senate, stated, “Technology-wise, I think we compare pretty well with other local schools.” However, “Some of the classrooms are in need of physical upgrades. He continued, “I’m glad to hear that accessibility, lighting, heating and windows are included in the list of things to be done.”

Lawrence discussed the hopes that he has for the upgrading process, with the first being that we can “monitor how the first phase goes and make adjustments for the later phase.”

Secondly, “that the updated classrooms and technology are flexible enough to meet the various ways we use them now but also to allow for us to experiment with new approaches.” 

Even though the plans are not solely based on technology, technological upgrades could still aid in discussions surrounding various ways of implementing different teaching practices. 

Lawrence cited his experience amongst some other professors who had tested out Science Hall when it opened. He touched on how “the desks can be rearranged in small groups, and there were TVs that you could wheel around for each group — the small group part worked great, but the screen sharing on the TVs didn't — and the holes in the floor for cables were a problem too.” 

Renovations to Science Hall were also mentioned; however, those are part of the long-term strategic plan. Stoute went on to address potentially taking some of the ideas to the Undergraduate Student Association and highlighted the idea that it is “incumbent on us to ask and listen to students.” 

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