Wednesday, August 14, 2002
SEHS moves to new building
By Mary E. Iorio, OU Writer
Oakland University’s School of Education and Human Services (SEHS) is moving into its new building this week.
“I walked in today, and I had this awesome feeling that this was a new beginning,” said Olivia Williams, a faculty member in human development and child studies. “It felt like an institute of learning.”
The move required more than 70 professors and some 30 to 40 staff members to pack up textbooks, files, computers and sometimes a decade’s worth of syllabi for the short move across campus. A week-long succession of Allied Van Lines trucks will make the trip from O’Dowd Hall to the new building just east of Varner Hall.
Logistics include switching over 115 phones, faxes and modems, and installing 58 new classroom and lab phones, said Chia-Poh Tai, assistant director of operations for OU’s Information Technology Department.
Those trying to reach SEHS faculty and staff probably won’t experience interruptions. Phone numbers will not change. Voice mail will remain active as will e-mail accounts.
“Each day, as the departments move, we’re switching the phone lines over first thing each morning,” Tai said. “It’s taking about a half an hour.”
Technology cabling for computers went in during construction, providing quick plug-in to the campus’ network, Internet and e-mail. Faculty and staff encountered all new Steelcase furnishings, including L-shaped, built-in desktops, shelving and filing cabinets.
“To me, this has really been a smooth move,” said James Quinn, associate professor of human resource development. “My computer is connected, and I just got my first phone call.”
Quinn spent the past year culling his books and old files, whittling his belongings down to a below-average 10 boxes.
The move brings most SEHS faculty and staff offices onto the same floor.
“I really like that all the faculty are together,” Williams said. “It makes for a nice atmosphere of collaboration. We won’t just happen upon each other on the elevator on our way to different floors.”
SEHS long occupied about 28,000 square feet spread out across five floors in O’Dowd. The new $31.5 million, 4-story building provides 132,000 square feet and includes general-purpose classrooms, counseling rooms and viewing labs, an educational resource library and offices. The Lowry Early Childhood Education Center, a toddler and pre-school lab program, will occupy the building’s lower level.
Janet Hepburn, OU’s manager of capital planning and design, expects to complete the faculty/staff moves by Friday, Aug. 16. The Lowry Center move will begin on Monday, Aug. 19, and should last two days.
“We tried to schedule the move early enough to provide a two-week buffer before the semester begins, in case we ran into any unexpected snags.”
That doesn’t seem to be happening. The building’s construction is essentially finished, Hepburn said. “We’re doing punch list items now: touch up painting, installing light bulbs. There’s nothing major.”
J.M. Olson Corporation of St. Clair Shores began construction in April 2001. The project cost is being shared by the university and the State of Michigan.