Date:  January 28, 2002

                                                                                                Contact:  Cheryl D. Peck

Workers prepare site for new classroom/office building at UIS

SPRINGFIELD – Workers are busy boring soil and moving trees at the University of Illinois at Springfield to prepare for construction of a new classroom/office building.  An area directly south of the Public Affairs Center and east of Lincoln Residence Hall will be the location of the $30 million building, with groundbreaking expected to take place this spring.

            “We are very grateful that this building is about to be constructed.  It will alleviate critical space needs and enhance the overall educational experience of our students,” said UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen.

  The 117,000 square-foot building will house technology-enhanced and smart classrooms, seminar rooms, a lecture hall, computer laboratories, and office space for academic programs now located in Brookens Library and in prefabricated metal buildings located on the east side of campus.  According to Dave Barrows, director of physical planning and operations, the building will be twice as large as the Health & Sciences Building, located just east of the site of the new building.

            The Legislature included half of the funding for the classroom building ($15 million) in this year’s state budget, with the second half expected to be included in the FY2003 budget.

            “This campus has suffered from a problem of overcrowding for several years, particularly in the evenings when 65% of our students attend classes.  And many of our students must attend classes in deteriorating, outmoded metal buildings that have been considered temporary since their construction in the early 1970s,” Ringeisen said.  He noted that UIS’ College of Business and Management is completely housed in one of those buildings.

            The new building will allow consolidation of most academic programs and key student services into permanent buildings in the center of campus, contributing further to the formation of a campus quadrangle.  The buildings now located on the quadrangle are Brookens Library, the Public Affairs Center, and the Health & Sciences Building.  The campus’ master plan calls for the development of more green space in the quadrangle area in order to create a collegial environment and social atmosphere.

            According to Ringeisen, there has been a severe need for space at UIS for several years.  “We have been unable to serve the needs of many prospective students when they are turned away every semester because our available classrooms are booked solid in the evenings,” he said.  “UIS has also begun to attract an increasing number of fulltime students, who tend to be younger and residential.  They expect to attend classes offered in buildings more comparable to those on other college and university campuses.  We cannot compete for them as effectively without a more permanent infrastructure.”

            The new building will also permit Brookens Library to reclaim space now occupied by academic programs for crucial expansion of its collections and technology-related services.  Also, it will allow the addition of new technology-enhanced and smart classrooms that will raise UIS to a more advance level of technological sophistication in delivering high quality education to its students.