October 4, 2007

C.U. Accelerates West Campus Construction

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If like many not-so-early-birds you’ve been snoozing through that 8:40 class, you probably should have dropped your class. Or lived on West Campus.
“It’s like a second alarm,” said Rachel Holloway ’10. “The construction starts at 8 a.m. every morning which is fine because it helps me get up. It’s really no inconvenience at all.”
Since construction on the West Campus Residential Initiative began in 2003, the “Class of” halls have all been demolished and three of the five new residential dorms — Cook, Becker and Bethe — now house students.
Construction on the remaining two houses was originally set to be completed in 2010, but is now scheduled for August 2008.
“We could see the fatigue that students were experiencing from the construction, and we asked ourselves, how can we help?” explained Edna R. Dugan, West Campus Council co-chair and assistant vice president for finance and administration and student and academic services.
According to Dugan, the Council met with construction teams 18 months ago and chose to pursue a more aggressive strategy, involving better construction techniques and pre-cast concrete.
Remarkably, they were able to do so without significantly affecting the overall cost. Because work will be completed earlier, the University will also avoid paying the cost of construction inflation, she said.
The William T. Keeton House, named in honor of the celebrated biology professor, will be open to students starting this August. Keeton passed away at the age of 47 in 1980 from a heart condition.
A prize is awarded in his honor to top BIO101 students every year. Audio clips of his lectures are also available on the BIO101 website.
“When Prof. Keeton began teaching introductory biology it was a 200 or 300 student course,” said Prof. Carl Hopkins, neurology and behavior. “It became one of those mega-courses with 1,200 students. He was a sensational lecturer, and he spoke with extraordinary logic because he wrote the textbook.”
He was also admired by his students.
“He was an extremely kind and well-respected person and an excellent mentor. His influence was in large part due to his teaching — he had an amazing lecturing ability and was able to synthesize the information and teach in a way that inspired confidence and combined clarity and humor,” said Lindsay Goodloe, senior lecturer at the Center for Learning and Teaching.
Like the rest of the houses, Keeton includes a dining room, library, seminar, cafeteria, study space and computer room. The head of each house will also be a senior faculty member and each house will hold about 360 students.
The West Campus Residential Initiative is part of what Dugan refers to as a “University renewal,” which is in part due to the increasing number of students on campus. The last major construction wave came with the arrival of the baby boomers in the ’60s.
Some students have found that the WCRI provides a great opportunity to get to know fellow students and faculty.
“I love it because of the events and the cultural experiences,” said Samantha Spindel ’08, a student advisor who has lived in Becker for three years. “We can take study breaks together and have late night snacks. There’s also a more intellectual side. We have discussions over dinner and can interact with a member of the faculty in a non-academic setting,”
Students await the completion of the fifth and final house.
“It’s been really cool to watch house five go up. We saw it when it was just the foundation and now it’s already up to like three floors,” Holloway said.