Monday, August 20, 2018

Susan Koch: A beautiful, functional and improving campus

The following is an excerpt from a column by University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch. This column appeared in The State Journal-Register on August 19, 2018.

Though summertime at the University of Illinois Springfield entails a variety of both educational and recreational pursuits, the end of the academic year and the arrival of warmer weather also presents opportunities for campus improvements that will enhance the college experience for students as well as improve the environment for faculty, staff and visitors.

For students, research shows a functional and beautiful campus can be a deciding factor in their college choice and UIS students often tell me they “fell in love” with the campus itself when they made their first visit.

With a property consisting of about 750 acres and, with recent additions including the Lincoln sculpture, a Shakespeare Garden and the new Student Union, the UIS campus is, indeed, both welcoming and beautiful.

Chuck Coderko, Associate Chancellor for Facilities and Services, can attest better than anyone that Summer 2018 has been particularly busy!

“The biggest transformation underway this summer,” says Coderko, “is the main floor of Brookens Library — a project that started in mid-May and will be completed in early October.”

University libraries are no longer the quiet repositories of books they were when Brookens opened its doors about 40 years ago.

The renovation includes a more open layout, state-of-the-art LED lighting, modern and durable flooring, mobile furniture, and collaborative spaces that encourage group interaction and active learning. The project also adds a high-tech classroom for library instruction and workshops.

The second-oldest building on campus, the Public Affairs Center (circa 1980), has also been undergoing major improvements this summer including a new roof, completion of a stair rail safety project and various enhancements and safety improvements to Sangamon Auditorium, which launches its 2018-19 season September 16 with a performance by acclaimed comedian Jay Leno.

The newly acquired UIS Field Station at Lake Springfield, formerly the FOP lake club, is also undergoing transformation. Just a short walk from campus, the facility will enable easily accessible opportunities for education, research, recreation and community outreach on and near the lake. Director of Field Stations Dr. Tom Rothfus tells me several classes are already scheduled to use the new lakeshore location this fall.

Superintendent of Grounds Brian Beckerman and his talented team spend the summer months maintaining and improving the entire landscape which includes nearly 500 tree and shrub varieties, about 375 distinct flowers and ornamental grasses, and acres of lawn and sports fields for recreation, youth sports and intercollegiate athletics.

“We’ve adopted a more sustainable philosophy in recent years,” says Beckerman, “using native grasses and other materials that have natural beauty and require less mowing and maintenance. We’ve been pleased to work with the university’s new Green Fee Committee and others,” he continues, “on projects like the green roof on the Student Union (expected to achieve LEED Gold recognition later this year) and the campus community garden.”

“Members of the Facilities and Services team have a tremendous sense of pride and ownership in their work at UIS,” says Coderko. “If it touches the ground, it’s ours,” he continues, “and we want to make it better, safer and more enjoyable for students, faculty, staff and visitors.”

Read the entire article online.