Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Residential College faculty excited about East Quad renovation

Residential College faculty getting their first look at the East Quad renovation project being completed this summer say that, generally, the upgrades will inspire faculty and students and spark collaboration.

But some specific renovation details also are winning notice.

  EQ Schoen

David Schoem (above), director of the Michigan Community Scholars Program, and Katri Ervamaa (left), lecturer III and music program head, are shown in two views of the new two-level atrium in the renovated East Quad. (Photos by Martin Vloet, Michigan Photography)

See list of the renovation project's highlights.

Katri Ervamaa, lecturer III and music program head, says that among upgrades ranging from new classrooms to added storage, she's excited to hear how the new wood floor in the music practice room will affect acoustics.

"The architects really listened to the users. The space is light and modern without being oppressively so. I'm glad that some of the whimsy and spirit is retained," says Ervamaa. She and other faculty suggested upgrades that are part of the renovation.

David Schoem, director of the Michigan Community Scholars Program housed at East Quad and an adjunct associate professor of sociology, says new informal meeting spaces and the new cafe will encourage faculty-student interaction and form a good setting to build a strong, diverse community.

On a smaller scale, "We are thrilled that space has been set aside for a (proposed) vegetable garden to be used for instructional purposes about sustainability," he adds.

East Quad is the latest of several U-M residence halls to undergo comprehensive renovation. Opened in 1940, it houses approximately 840 students. Since 1967, it has served as home to the RC, a four-year interdisciplinary liberal arts program within LSA with an emphasis on languages, writing and the arts.

EQ cafe  

Natural light streams into the new cafe at the Residential College. (Photo by Martin Vloet, Michigan Photography)


Similar to significant upgrades made to other residence halls, the $116 million East Quad project includes a new fire suppression system; replaced infrastructure including electric, plumbing, heating and ventilation systems and roofing; and added air-conditioning and wireless network access.

Improvements also have been made to student rooms, dining facilities, classrooms and offices. The work is part of the Residential Life Initiatives to improve the on-campus living experience and strengthen the connection between living and learning. 

"The renovation will make the RC an even more robust living-learning community with custom-designed spaces to enhance our educational mission," says Angela Dillard, RC director and professor of Afroamerican and African studies. She said the opening of non-residence spaces to more public access for RC students and others who take classes in East Quad will create a more welcoming space.

The RC also is home to a number of distinctive engaged-learning programs as part of an overall educational philosophy that unites learning and doing. These include Semester in Detroit; the Telling It Program, which uses an empowerment through the arts approach to work with at-risk children; a number of language-based internship programs; and the Prison Creative Arts Project, which moved to the RC and the quad this summer.

Returning RC faculty members say upgrades to classrooms are a big plus.

"The high-tech classrooms will enable my students to take advantage of more learning resources than were previously available to my seminars," says Jim Crowfoot, professor emeritus and dean emeritus of the School of Natural Resources and Environment, and adjunct faculty member in the Program in the Environment and the Michigan Community Scholars Program. He says the renovation also demonstrates the university's commitment and achievements in pursuing sustainability through physical plant improvements. 

Ervamaa says that while upgrading to state-of-the-art technology and enhanced audio/visual capabilities will change how faculty teach some music classes, there still will be hands-on instruction, and practice will still involve hard work.