February 20, 2018
The long-awaited grand opening of the Ent Center for the Arts brought excitement to UCCS, as the university and community members alike anticipated a new era of performing and visual arts in the community.
However, one question remains for University Hall, the former location of Theatreworks and programs within the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, including music and theater and dance.
What happens now to University Hall?
Classrooms used by VAPA rooms now lie vacant since the program’s transition to the Ent Center. The classrooms will be renovated to build a new amphitheater classroom and to expand the College of Education.
The renovations are estimated to cost about $2 million. These will be completed for spring 2019 semester.
VAPA was housed mostly on the second floor of UHall. The upper floor will be turned into a large classroom, which will be the largest classroom on campus when completed.
Carolyn Fox, executive director of planning, design and construction, explained that the classroom is designed to encourage more flexibility in teaching.
“It will be a little different any of our other tiered classrooms on campus. It’ll be a combination of tables and chairs, not like the auditorium in Centennial which has fixed seating with small tablets that flip up,” said Fox. “This is so students can work in small groups.”
The classroom will be connected to a break-out room where professors can meet with students after a class. The space will be available to all colleges on campus.
“If a student has questions for the teacher right after a class, they can go to a room that might have white boards and seating, and they could have an informal session there instead of in the hallway,” said Fox.
The College of Education, which saw a 33 percent increase in enrollment this year, has plans to use the bottom floor for more classroom space as they have outgrown their current classroom facilities.
Two classrooms will be built: one for early childhood education and elementary education students, and one focusing on teaching elementary and middle school science.
“Having more students means you need more space and needing more faculty,” said Mark Malone, chair of the Department of Teaching and Learning.
“This space became available, and we made a good argument for getting into the space. That’s how this whole thing got started.”
The early childhood and elementary education classroom will function like a normal college classroom but will have features of an elementary classroom.
Moveable cubbies and bookcases will be incorporated into the rooms. This is so the students can learn like how they will teach. It will have space for 60 – 65 students.
The Department of Teaching and Learning are choosing to also build a science classroom because they believe that it is important for future teachers to learn about broad science areas so that they can teach those subjects well. The classroom will be able to accommodate 30 – 36 students.
The science room will have everything that the professors will need to teach their courses like sinks, eye wash stations, storage space and a fume hood for working with chemicals, according to Malone.
“We’re trying to build in good technology in our lab space and lots of storage. Storage in the room with counters but also in a storage room right next door,” said Malone.
Until the new space is completed, Malone had to adapt his science curriculum to regular classrooms.
“Right now, I’m teaching all my science off a cart in a lab on wheels that I move to whatever classroom in this building that happens to be available,” said Malone.
The new classroom will give him more options to teach his students. “It’s very exciting,” he said.