Morrill, Earl Hall one of the last few in need of renovations, rebuilding

Jacob Waring-Opinions & Features Editor

When I pass Morrill and Earl Hall I often wonder if those buildings should be renovated or completely rebuilt. They are some of our oldest structures. They do not have the  glamour or the glitz that the Academic Science and Laboratory showcases. I often assume that the facility captures the envious glances of students who don’t occupy the structure as often as science majors do, as it certainly does captures mine.

Dr. Robert Prezant, provost and vice president for academic affairs said, in a previous interview, that there is a new Health and Human Services building that the architects are already working on, and that a new School of Business is queued up next.

He said the growth of a certain programs or disciplines, where students go after graduation, and where the opportunities for employment are, are all factored into the possible construction of a new facility.

“We need to make sure we have those resources so all of those [considerations] enter the mix when you’re thinking about it the future,” said Prezant.

We may not like it when our educational institutions act like cooperate businesses, but if colleges do not look at areas of growth, there’s a chance of a college’s door being shuttered one day.

Southern is experiencing a self-imposed hiring freeze. Connecticut’s economy is in shambles, and all the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities are feeling that pain. Certain money the college receives due to legal stipulations can only be allocated for that specific purpose and not dispersed elsewhere. Despite circumstances, the buildings’ maintenance cannot be deferred.

Prioritizing buildings in a climate of economic struggles means hard choices because we unfortunately, do not exist in an ideal world where all the buildings are timely replaced or fully renovated.

I do understand the valid frustration of many who occupy Morrill and Earl Hall have expressed when other buildings are prioritized.

Terrence Lavin, chair of the art department, told me in a previous interview that Earl Hall was supposed to be replaced 15 years ago and other buildings were prioritized instead. “This building is really ancient,” said Lavin. “We have massive problems with roof leaks, other technical issues, [and] our space needs are completely incongruous with the building that we have.”

I had students in Earl Hall tell me that many of the areas in Earl are not ideal for art. The leakage, when it rains, have been such an issue that equipment gets ruined and needs needing to be repaired. What’s more unfortunate is that drawings and other artwork that are situated near the windows get ruined. This had led to a lot of students that frequent Earl Hall to say they feel the building gets overlooked.

Robert Sheeley, associate vice president for capital budgeting and facilities operations, has said that he is on top of everything. They’re already in the process of resolving the leakage, but facilities are taking the cautionary route.

He told me that he had signed a requisition to possibly solve the leaks coming from windows and roof. His department would only be doing one section of the building to see if replacing the window wall the exterior of Earl Hallworks. It estimated cost is to be 2.5 million dollars. I expressed to Sheeley how I believed that Morill needs tremendous work done, and he agreed with me.

“Morrill Hall needs some work done to it. This summer we’ll be doing two of the halls at Morrill. We’re be renovating them. Hall needs a complete renovation, especially on the second floor,” Sheeley said.

It is marvelous that there are plans in progress with the goal of maintaining, extending the life and improving the facilities at Southern. My preference is for department to of have a new building because we are an institution that is flourishing and growing, however I know that takes time, money and ideal circumstances to accomplish.

I also know that the longer we put off renovating our older buildings more issues they will have, and renovations may cost the university more money than a new building would. Maybe the data supports a new School of Business or a Health and Human Service but it’s my belief that Morrill and Earl Hall should take priority. Otherwise, it is all for naught.

Photo Credit: August Pelliccio

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