Since you’ve been gone: Metropolitan Campus summer renovations
Congregate, eat, drink and study in Jeepers, in Alumni Hall! New comfy chairs and dining tables provide for an updated and relaxed atmosphere, while the addition of Riverside Café makes Starbucks drinks and coffee available on campus.
By Kenna Caprio
A little touch up and a little paint can go a long way towards a campus refresh. So can installing new lighting fixtures, replacing old bleachers and upgrading classroom technology.
“All projects contribute to attaining our continual goal to provide the highest quality academic experience and services to students while enhancing the quality of life for all members of the Metropolitan Campus community,” says Metropolitan Campus Provost Joseph Kiernan.
The first week of classes, Metro students were abuzz on the University’s Twitter and Facebook accounts about new dining options — the Riverside Café, which proudly brews Starbucks, and Leafs and Grains, which offers salads and sandwiches — in Jeepers in Alumni Hall.
“It’s amazing what a few little changes can do,” says Robert Valenti, assistant vice-president for administration. “I’ve always loved that location. We had a diamond and just had to polish it a little bit.”
Ideas for these changes to Jeepers came directly from the students, says Valenti. Years ago, Valenti established the Auxiliary Student Committee for University Students (ASC-US) on both New Jersey campuses, where students can voice needs and concerns relating to dining, laundry, the bookstore and the mailroom. Valenti also credits Professor Kirsten Tripodi’s hospitality students in her Food and Beverage Management class for the suggestions they made for Jeepers as part of a final project. New furniture — including plush chairs and dining tables and chairs — rounds out the updated look in Jeepers.
Originally, the main project this summer was to be an overhaul and update of the Becton Hall academic building and facilities. With funds approved by the state, a $6-million renovation of engineering, computer science and media arts labs was scheduled. But after a serious fire broke out in mid-June — delaying the original updates for at least a year — the focus turned to readying the building for the fall.
“As the semester begins, we have full use of the laboratories and classrooms on the first two floors of Becton Hall,” says Kiernan.
In the meantime, classes intended to run in locations on the third and fourth floor have been moved elsewhere on campus.
“The restoration of the third and fourth floor of Becton Hall is in progress,” reports Richard Frick, associate vice president for facilities. “We are anticipating completing that in late October, with priority being given to the classrooms and lab spaces.”
Technology upgrades in Dickinson Hall and the Muscarelle Center were completed this summer. Rooms 1152, 1153, 1165 and 1170 in Dickinson Hall all received LED panels with DVD players, while 2178 became a “smart” classroom complete with Interactive Television (ITV) capability and a touch panel screen for hands-on work.
“The instructor walks in and with the touch of a button, has everything,” says Manish Wadhwa, university director of the Center for Teaching and Learning with Technology, of these new technologies. Dickinson Hall computer labs and three classrooms in Muscarelle are now also outfitted with high definition (HD) projectors.
Renovations to the admissions office in Dickinson Hall are well underway and expected to be completed this fall.
The Frank Giovatto Library also received ITV capability in the conference room and a new public address system. A brand new baby grand Steinway piano was purchased for the library’s auditorium and is intended for concerts and events.
Approximately $200,000 of new equipment for engineering and graphics classrooms and labs was secured, as well as a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance machine for the chemistry department.
Other campus improvements include lighting upgrades in the University Court Residence Halls, two replacement vehicles for the Department of Public Safety and two new vans for use by Public Safety and Athletics.
Athletics is also expecting new bleachers and a press box on the soccer field, to be completed this fall. New moveable bleachers have already been installed inside of the Rothman Center.
Renovations continue in the Undergraduate Admissions office in Dickinson Hall, which has been completely gutted. “The total redesign is to make it more welcoming to prospective students and parents,” says Liz Dikovics, special assistant to the vice president of enrollment management. The emphasis of the overhaul is on the reception area, which will eventually be big enough for 20-25 people, rather than just a few visitors. “The entire office will have a whole new feel and look to it,” Dikovics says. The entrance doors will be all glass, in an effort to open up the space, and new wood flooring will be installed. The renovations in the suite are expected to be finished this fall.
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