Moving some 600 MU employees to temporary offices as part of the Renew Mizzou buildings renovation is not a simple task. But with planning and coordination, the effort should proceed without problems, said Heiddi Davis, Campus Facilities director of space planning and management.
Pickard Hall is scheduled to close by year’s end, and Jesse and Swallow halls will close between March and July 2014, pending Board of Curators approval. Faculty and staff in those buildings and others will be relocated.
“It’s always challenging for the people who are being moved,” Davis said. “We try to recognize that and keep an empathetic mind. We will try to accommodate them so that they can continue to be successful.”
But while no one is questioning the need for building repairs, some faculty are questioning the communication process leading to the announced closings. At a Faculty Council meeting June 6, several council members asked administrators why the faculty being relocated weren’t included in the planning discussions. Others worried about the fate of the Pickard and Swallow museums.
On May 23, MU administrators announced that the historic Jesse and Swallow halls had been scheduled for renovations and Pickard Hall will be decommissioned per Nuclear Regulatory Commission codes. Staff and faculty in the halls shall be moved to unused campus offices and some, such as Jesse administrators, will displace employees in other departments, who will be moved to unused space. Plans are to relocate the Pickard and Swallow museums to the old Ellis Fischel Cancer Center building, now called Mizzou North.
Jesse Hall, an administrative building that includes the chancellor’s office, is expected to receive new sprinkler and fire alarm systems, upgraded heating and cooling systems, and a second elevator. Renovation of Swallow Hall, home of the anthropology department and the Museum of Anthropology, will create an additional 5,000 square feet for offices, classroom and lab space.
Work in Pickard Hall, site of offices and the Museum of Art & Archaeology, will continue to remove radioactivity in the hall’s currently unused portion. The radioactivity was caused by chemical experiments in the early 20th century.
The $22.85 million Renew Mizzou project will eliminate the need for more than $14.3 million in deferred-maintenance costs associated with these buildings, administrators said. Funding will come from campus savings ($14 million) and Campus Facilities’ deferred maintenance budget ($8.85 million).
Renew Mizzou will follow the Mizzou Stewardship Model, created four years ago to address the backlog of more than 30 buildings on campus needing repairs. Maintenance was delayed because funds were lacking due to state budget cuts, Jackie Jones, vice chancellor of administrative services, told Faculty Council last week.
The stewardship model scraps the old model of doing ad hoc maintenance repairs. It shutters a building for a top-to-bottom renovation, Jones said. This is a money saver because of the prohibitive maintenance costs old buildings require and the upgrades installed that make the buildings energy efficient. Moreover, the buildings make better use of space and create a safer and more effective academic learning environment, Jones said.
A few years ago, Tate and Switzer halls were renovated under this model, and Gwynn Hall is undergoing the process with completion scheduled for fall.
Swallow and Jesse employees are expected to move back to their halls in early summer 2015. For those in Pickard, their return is dependent on radioactive testing results.
Some Faculty Council members said the faculty displaced due to Renew Mizzou should have been involved in relocation planning rather than learning about the move last month. The council members said it was another example of faculty being out of the loop on important decisions affecting faculty; previous incidents were, in their view, the announced closings of the Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute in March 2012 and the University of Missouri Press in May 2012.
“Sharing and trust cost nothing in money or time,” said Clyde Bentley, an associate professor in the School of Journalism. “If you are going to move faculty, you probably better talk to them first.”
Mike Urban, an associate professor of geography, told administrators and council members that the museums needed to remain on the main campus because their absence “limits student and public access to the arts.” He also asked for a timeline for when the museums would return to Pickard and Swallow.
Faculty Council Chair Harry Tyrer announced plans to stage a public forum in several weeks to address concerns about Renew Mizzou and related matters.
Meanwhile, as building planners and designers map out the work, administrators are creating a plan to move faculty and staff smoothly. Davis said each department affected will have a designated leader appointed in July to help with moving logistics. An IT employee shall be identified to lead the coordination of moving electronics for each relocated worker, she said.
That the move announcement came many months in advance suggests a careful approach being taken, administrators said.
“We first looked to see if we had a workable plan,” Davis said of the moving process. “Now we are getting into the details.”