] What’s best for students high on LS&A dean’s priority list The University Record, September 20, 1999

What’s best for students high on LS&A dean’s priority list

By Jane R. Elgass

Haven Hall was built in 1952 as the office wing accompanying Mason Hall classroom spaces. Photo Services file photo
LS&A Dean Shirley Neuman, officially on campus since Aug. 1, detailed for the Regents last week a series of academic goals that will be accomplished by the $86 million renovation project involving four LS&A buildings on Central Campus.

  • A private office for every tenured and tenure-track faculty member and shared office space in good condition for every graduate student assistant (GSI).

    “Working conditions are a significant factor in the recruitment of faculty and graduate students,” she noted. “Faculty should be able to work on campus.” Haven Hall is considered by some to be uninhabitable and faculty are taking their work home. This has a negative effect on undergraduates, who are unable to meet with the faculty members, and on graduate students, who are unable to work with their faculty mentors as much as might be possible.

  • Consolidation of fragmented departments and units, and bringing together units with similar intellectual interests into geographical centers.

    Units that have elements that are physically separated are “divided and can become divisive,” Neuman said, citing the Department of Anthropology. That program has four sub-disciplines and is housed in two locations. “It is ranked number one in the country but very badly needs shared space in order to operate as a department.”

    The Center for Afroamerican and African Studies (CAAS) and the American Culture Program, for instance, will be located near each other, close to the Department of English and the Department of History, with whom each shares interests. “They will be near their natural interdisciplinary partners,” Neuman said.

  • Expansion and improvement of space for units that have grown, especially interdisciplinary programs.

    The Perry Building, at the intersection of Packard, Monroe and Division, was built as an elementary school in 1902 and acquired by the University in 1965. Currently about one-quarter of the space is LS&A classrooms. The rest is vacant. Photo courtesy of the Office of the Associate Vice President for Facilities and Operations
    CAAS and American culture both have experienced huge growth—in faculty, in students and in initiatives. CAAS also has a music library and information center, while American culture needs musical performance space and an audio-visual center.

    The LS&A Building project also will enable development offices now in rented space and computing services offices to join other LS&A administrative units, allowing for better coordination and supervision and a savings in rent money.

  • Improved facilities for student learning that include seminar and conference rooms and small classrooms for every department, as well as large classrooms. Everything will be “fully wired and equipped to handle multi-media.”
    Although included in a capital outlay request made in 1997, renovation work on the Frieze Building, once an Ann Arbor high school, will be deferred for three to five years. Photo Services file photo

  • A focus on the use of information technologies across all disciplines in the future. “Three to five years from now, how will we be teaching our students in this environment? We need to address information technology as it relates to students in a spectrum of initiatives,” including computer fluency, educating specialists through the computer science program that’s delivered by the College of Engineering and “providing them with the technical expertise necessary to work in a digital environment.”

  • Provision of more opportunities for student interactive learning. “The University of Michigan is modeling the renewal of commitment to undergraduate learning,” Neuman said. “There is a new pedagogy emerging that says we learn more if we work with the materials. This takes a different kind of learning space, where students can discuss, collaborate, study together. “We need to have common, serious study space,” Neuman emphasized, that has computing equipment with the necessary software and relevant databases, that has people available to help, where students can work on group projects and graduate student instructors (GSIs) can offer tutorials. GSIs could hold office hours there, a much more approachable and less intimidating environment than a faculty office can sometimes be.

    “We need to provide students with the experience of discovery through working on teams.”