Many of you, like me, probably recall when classrooms were nothing more than a chalkboard, teacher's desk, a flat floor and student desks. Today, especially on a university campus, things have changed considerably. To be considered capable of preparing today's students, a fully equipped classroom typically has tiered seating, wireless access, an instruction podium to select from many different multimedia options and smart boards. Although dry erase boards behind large, automatic projection screens are included, chalk is considered an extra.
Beginning this year and continuing for at least the next decade, Auburn University will be altering the landscape to make way for new classroom buildings to keep apace of these advanced learning environments.
The Board of Trustees, in continuing to plan strategically to prepare our students to be outstanding future leaders, has approved the development of a large classroom facility in the core of campus. This signals a move away from multiple, generic classrooms in each college and school, and toward more efficient use of space and dollars. A central facility with labs, classrooms and lecture areas will give Auburn a continuing competitive edge in attracting bright students, as well. Colleges and schools would still have dedicated labs and academic areas to meet specific, rather than general, needs.
The classroom facility will provide greater diversity in size and seating capacity, configured with the flexibility to be adapted for different instructional methods and requirements, facilitate learning and student collaboration, and be set up for use of emerging technologies. Mell Hall, Sewell Hall, and the Alpha Psi fraternity house are scheduled to be torn down this year to make room for such new academic space, and the university is also looking at how central, fully-equipped, modern classroom facilities could replace classrooms provided by larger buildings such as Haley Center, which are outdated and would be too costly to renovate.
Haley Center leads the list of buildings targeted for replacement over the next decade or longer, with Parker, Funchess, Upchurch and Spidle also on the list for eventual replacement. Those buildings contain 91,000 net square feet of classroom space, 41 percent of the total provost instructional space on campus. A new building or buildings could provide the same functions in 77,000 net square feet.
Earlier this year, the Board of Trustees approved a plan to build a new residence hall, to help meet the ever-increasing demand for on campus housing, and a new parking facility in the area where Sewell Hall now stands.
In keeping with our mission, Auburn uses the knowledge and skills it creates to benefit the people of Alabama and beyond. Therefore, we are very proud to have been honored at the highest designations for our community outreach. The distinguished Carnegie Foundation selected Auburn for the 2010 "Community Engagement Classification," recognizing Auburn's commitment to community partnership and public service through its mission of outreach. Soon afterward, Auburn was also named to the 2010 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with distinction, a recognition of the nation's leading colleges and universities for their dedication to civic engagement, service-learning, and volunteering.
There's perhaps no better honor for our campus than to be recognized for helping others. I applaud students, faculty and staff for their dedication to public service.
Last Updated: Oct. 14, 2013