|September 21, 2000
Volume 31 Number 3
|A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico|
Jacking Up the House
The dog began by howling and then barked on and off for a week. He was troubled. His house, where his people lived, was up in the air, and a ladder stood where the back steps used to be. He couldn't get up the ladder; he couldn't get in to eat, sleep, or visit.
His family had pulled an Airstream trailer into the side yard to sleep in while the house had a new foundation built and extensive remodeling was completed. The dog slept in the trailer with his family during the night, but the floor wasn't as comfortable as the couch in his house.
After about two weeks, the house came back down and was settled on its new foundation. Everyone's spirits lifted, including those of the dog. The virtues of the remodeled house and its new foundation were obvious to everyone; the pain and inconvenience of living in temporary quarters faded from memory. York, the dog, had his old couch back, with new things and smells to check out, and his family was back where it belonged. The plans our daughter's family had for buying and renovating the home they had been renting finally became a reality.
Planning for the growth of the campus and living with the reality of the growth are also very different things. We can see in our mind's eye new buildings, pathways, offices, courtyards, work spaces, and a more beautiful campus. But like a homeowner who engages in a massive rebuilding of her existing home, we will be somewhat inconvenienced. I thought it would be helpful to sketch out what the growth plans are for the campus so that, as we begin, you can understand what the impact on our programs will be and what the potential is.
Vice President Graham and his staff, along with people in other areas of the university, have provided 18 presentations, asked for input, and have given a great deal of thought to the best options to move forward. We must get rid of the "temporary" buildings on campus because if we do not, we can't build new, more efficient buildings. "Temporary" buildings (e.g., Sutter) are counted against us in determining the space to which we are entitled by formulae. Such buildings are also expensive to maintain, heat, and cool. We need to complete the asbestos abatement project in Butte Hall and renovate that space. We need to create a "front door" for the campus. We need to create new learning environments for our students, whether these are traditional laboratories, Smart Classrooms, or rooms with moveable furniture. We need to find room for expanded programs and for those that promise future growth. We want the spaces where faculty and staff work to be inviting, attractive, and healthy places. The list of features we want in our new "house" is extensive, but, like any homeowner with a fixed budget, we must choose carefully those features that both meet our needs and our budget.
This winter the extensive building and renovation project of the Associated Students Union will come to an end. After the A.S. moves their food services to their new building, we will move forward with final plans for Colusa, with half of the building devoted to a university art gallery housing the Janet Turner Collection, and the other half devoted to meeting/conference rooms. At the same time, ground will be broken for a new physical education building. While this is going on, we will begin an upgrade of the technological backbone of the campus, an $18 million project funded by the state. This means there will be open trenches, and work going on within the buildings. As some of you know, space will be lost to the "closets" that are needed to house the equipment associated with this upgrade. However, the result will allow the campus to maintain its profile as a technological leader in the CSU.
What comes next and why? There are many programs and colleges whose space needs are substantial, any of which could legitimately claim that they were next in line for new or renovated space. Some of these needs are associated with accreditation standards, others with program growth, and others with the simple fact that the space they occupy is shoddy. Two things constrain us. First, the funds for extensive remodeling that come from the state have shrunk each year, and 20 percent of the funds we do get are by statute devoted to meeting ADA needs. So we simply do not have much money to remodel, and we don't want to invest it in the temporary buildings. Second, we must justify a new building in terms of replacement, and in terms of enrollment growth. (The new PE building was justified 10 years ago in response to previous enrollment growth. Hence, the new building adds no new capacity to the campus; it meets previously existing needs.) So, the next building most likely to be created is Taylor II, which would about double the capacity of the existing building. This project is predicated on the assumption that we are meeting existing enrollment demands, and that we will eliminate temporary space. Who gets to move in? At first, the building must be used as "overflow" space for people in other academic buildings. We need to remodel Butte, so in a game of shuffleboard, people in Butte would move to this renovated space and then back into Butte, opening up the space in the expanded Taylor. So, then would the faculty in H.F.A. get Taylor? No, because we must create a new working environment for our colleagues in Sutter complex and those scattered in other buildings across campus.
The campus is recommending that the next building, after Taylor II, be a Student Services Center, which could house, among other things, the current occupants of Sutter Hall plus Financial Aid, Counseling, Advising, and the Student Learning Center. This building would provide a "one-stop" center for our students, improved working conditions for faculty and staff, and would open up substantial space in Meriam Library, which could be used for overflow, as other building projects begin. Once a Student Services Center is completed, we will need to begin the expansion of Modoc Hall, which involves the elimination of AJH. After that, we need to replace Siskiyou Hall with a more efficient building.
And so it goes. None of these things is going to happen quickly, and there are things that could change these long-term building plans, including a substantial growth in the number of students. My intent is to point out that getting from here to there will not be easy and to point out that many people have discussed, through the Master Plan Process directed by Vice President Graham, how best to balance competing needs. When our home is finally back on its foundation and the remodeling completed, we will have survived a difficult process and can be proud of the results.
Scott G. McNall, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
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