For some of us, Normal Hall has been a big part of our academics here at UMPI. Many of us have had classes there. And many faculty members have spent long hours in their offices there, correcting work and meeting with students. It was also the home of the University Times newspaper. Well, now that building is being emptied. And there are probably some who are wondering what will happen to it. And what does this mean for the rest of the campus?
Chris Bell, campus operations officer, has said that there are no definite plans for Normal Hall yet. But he also said, “That does not mean we’re not going to maintain it.” He said that the question is what to do with Normal Hall. Right now, the campus is trying to save money, as are many campuses and universities these days. Sometimes that means rethinking the uses of certain buildings and facilities. “The idea is to reduce the amount of cost that that building is costing us,” Bell said.
For any of us who have been in Normal Hall, whether it was for a class or just in passing, we probably noticed that it could use some work. Currently, it is just costing the campus too much money to maintain as it has been. There have been no classes there since the fall of 2015 and faculty members have been moving out. They are moving to South Hall, and Student Support Services is now located in the Center for Innovative Learning. Bell said that the plan is to have all faculty moved out of Normal Hall by the fall semester of 2016. “We’ve got plenty of space for our remaining faculty,” Bell said.
One of the things that these changes has affected is the location of the University Times. It has been moved from Normal Hall to the first floor of Pullen Hall. Dr. Jacqui Lowman, adviser to the paper, now has her office right next to the University Times room. In Normal Hall, the two rooms were down the hall from each other. Josh Archer, editor of the University Times, commented on the move. “The building wasn’t very accessible,” he said. The communication between him and Lowman is easier now when he is laying out the paper because she is close by. “I think the move was good for us,” Archer said. He also mentioned that not only is communication better now, but the atmosphere is more social. He said that since there are more classes in Pullen, there are more students around than there were in Normal.
While there are no concrete plans for Normal Hall yet, ideas are being considered. “We are looking at options,” Bell said. He mentioned that the community will have a say in what is done with the building. “We’re not just going to tear the building down without the community’s participation,” Bell said. So for now, the building will still be maintained, though it will not be heated as much as before since the building will not be in use. During this time, ideas and options will be considered.
As things get shifted around on campus, we mustn’t feel as though we are saying goodbye to an old friend. Normal Hall will remain standing at UMPI for the foreseeable future.