Curtiss Hall receives $12 million update

The lower level of Curtiss Hall is undergoing extensive renovation. The constuction continues on the afternoon of Thursday, Sept. 15.

Ted Sics

Curtiss Hall is presently undergoing a set of construction projects that will serve a growing number of students.

David Acker, associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said in a phone interview that the biggest of these projects is a new student services wing scheduled to open next April.

“It will bring together our student services office, our multicultural students’ office, our career services office, our welcome center for new parents and students and also our study abroad students,” Acker said.

A new teaching complex on the second floor will open next month.

“It’s the renovation of a classroom and a set of offices dedicated to one of our really famous and much-loved professors,” Acker said, referring to Harold Crawford, a retired professor emeritus of agricultural education.

In addition, three “high-tech” classrooms in the Brenton Center — the hub of several distance education programs — have been renovated, Acker said.

Curtiss Hall is also in the process of receiving several safety and infrastructure updates, including a new smoke evacuation control system, new sprinklers and a new backup generator.

“This is a 100-year-old building,” Acker said, “so there are a lot of new regulations today to protect the safety of the students and staff.”

Next summer, construction crews will begin building a new student lounge, known as the Harl commons area, directly beneath Curtiss Hall’s main lecture room.

“We’re going to turn that into a beautiful area dedicated to students. It’ll be placed with a small cafe and a lot of seating and a place to plug in laptops,” Acker said. “It’s modeled somewhat after the Gerdin cafe area.”

The $12 million needed for these projects came mostly from private donors, Acker said.

“The university also contributed some funding,” Acker said. “The state did not put money directly into this project.”

The new offices and classrooms will serve about 3,600 undergraduates, Acker said.

“We’ve had a total of six years of continuous increases in the number of students in our college,” Acker said. “We’re at a 34-year high in terms of our student enrollment.”

With these high numbers, it is increasingly important for students to be able to easily access important resources, Acker said.

“When we show them the plans, the immediate reaction is tremendous excitement,” Acker said. “I must say that resonated with the donors.”

Acker said that in the process of planning and construction, students are “not being treated as an afterthought.”

“We want students to that when they come here, there’s always in our college where they’ll be welcome and it’ll be kind of like a home for them,” Acker said.

Danielle Levings, senior in psychology, said that other buildings on campus are more deserving of renovations. 

“I feel like there are other buildings on campus that would benefit more from an upgrade than Curtiss at this time, such as Science I and Physics Hall,” she said.

“That’s a lot of money,” said Jake Bergman, junior in psychology.