This summer thousands of books were transported out of the campus’ old Ramaker Library and into the new DeWitt Learning Commons. Ramaker now stands empty in the middle of campus and has likely caused many students to wonder what will become of the old but still functional building.
A few weeks ago, a chain link fence went up around the west side of the building, and further raised curiosities about what is going to happen to Ramaker. Provost Jasper Lesage is excited to reveal the plans for the fate of the building.
When the Learning Commons was completed this summer, everything was moved out of Ramaker. Although Ramaker is older, it is still in relatively good condition, so tearing it down was not an option. With its central location on campus, administration also did not want the building to stand empty.
A strategic planning committee was formed to decide what the new use of Ramaker would be and also what remodeling would have to be done in order for the building to fulfill its new purpose. On behalf of President Christy, Lesage is the chairman of this committee.
With the approval of the board of directors, the committee has decided Ramaker will be used for the student and academic life offices. This means all of the offices in the Franken Center will be moving into Ramaker along with all of the offices located in the RSC with the exception of the health and counseling services.
“Student Life and Academic Life ought to be complementary,” Lesage said. “Putting them in the same building helps them interact better. Right now they are split, which makes it hard for them to interact.”
The current hallway through the middle of Ramaker will be widened and will lead to a new entrance on the north side of the building. The new entrance will open to a sidewalk that leads straight to the Learning Commons.
“We want to encourage students to walk through the building instead of around it,” Lesage said.
The committee, Lesage said, wants students to be able to do this, so they will see the different offices in the building. The concern right now is the offices located in the Franken Center aren’t noticed by students. The new location in Ramaker would highlight their presence on campus.
Although many of the remodeling plans aren’t finalized, it is expected there will be spaces providing a place for students to interact. The floor plans include several student lounges. One lounge area will even feature a gas fireplace.
The student activity council, multicultural and international student affairs and the student government offices will all be moved into Ramaker. With these organizations being placed side- by- side, the students involved will cross paths more often.
If all goes according to plan, the renovations in Ramaker should be finished by next summer, and the faculty will move into their new offices by the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year. The cost of the remodeling project has not been made public yet, but Lesage said a budget has been determined.
Athletic coaches and the Kinesiology Department will use the vacated offices in the Rowenhorst Student Center. The Franken Center will be repurposed; however, what it will be used for has yet to be been determined.