More outdoor class options coming next year


Donovan WilsonReporter

Full use of outdoor classrooms can be expected at the beginning of the next academic year. “

Back in early fall, I received a call requesting outdoor classrooms,” said Eric Lessne, associate vice president for capital budgeting and facilities operations.

After receiving a call that the school wanted to sanction outdoor classrooms, Lessnne and university officials scouted campus for possible locations. The locations decided upon for full-fledged outdoor classrooms were right under the canopy of Earl hall and behind Engleman Hall, in front of the sculpture.

There is a third location under the canopies at Parking Lot 1, but those are strictly ‘bring-your-own-chair’ and have no provided furniture. Lessne said, “We knew some materials would get ruined.”

One of the biggest things factored into choosing these locations and the furniture for them was the elements and the weather, especially moving into the winter months.

Lessne made sure all furniture permanently placed outside in these locations were element resistant and could endure most conditions. In addition to this, all furniture has been placed at least 6 feet apart to ensure social distancing, even in an outdoor environment.

“There was originally a fourth location under the solar panels near Davis,” said Brad Crerar, director of the student center.

The fourth location was also a “bring-your-own-chair” situation, like the location near parking lot 1. According to Crerar, this location has never been used and there has not been any requests for it for next semester thus far.

However, as Crerar does handle most outdoor classrooms scheduling, he said that up until this point, the outdoor classrooms were only used “a little bit every now and then.”Crerar said, “All classroom scheduling normally goes through Drobish, but because these were one off meeting spaces they go through us”.

Robert Drobish, academic scheduling coordinator, usually handles all classroom scheduling but since these outdoor classrooms were originally meant only to be used here and there by professors, they go through Crerar and his colleagues at the student center.

They use a program called EMS to put in a system of who is using which outdoor classroom at which time on which day. The reservations are done essentially through a first come first serve basis, especially when it comes to unscheduled- last minute meetings.

“I’ve only received one request for the Earl Outdoor Classroom space for several dates in March and April for botany lab courses. The faculty member who requested the space is Rebecca Silady,” said Janet Klicsu, assistant director of the student center and coordinator of conference services. As reservations for classrooms including outdoor classrooms are currently open, Klicsu is at the forefront.

However, at the time of this writing, there had only been one request made to reserve an outdoor classroom. Klicsu said, “All I can tell you is that Bob must assign and approve classroom locations on campus. I’m not sure what his process is but if the faculty member requests an outdoor location and Bob approves it, then they must submit a Facilities usage request for the space. I then reserve the space in EMS. There are currently two locations, one in front of Earl Hall and one by the sculpture near Morrill. These areas have been set-up by Facilities Operations.”

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