Grawn Computer Lab relocating to Ronan Hall, should be open by fall semester

The Grawn Computer Lab is being relocated to the basement of Ronan Hall to make way for classroom space and group meeting rooms.

The plan has been in discussion from as early as March and was recently finalized.

The new lab will have fewer computer terminals, but Roger Rehm, vice president of Information Technology, said that would be countered with a virtual lab project. When the remodel of the current space is complete, more public computing space will be available to the public, he said.

The virtual lab is a project allowing accessibility to programs on the Grawn and Woldt computer labs through a registered user’s home computer terminal.

“We are looking to increase access to the right resources, not decrease it,” Rehm said, “We hope to be open and functioning at the basement of Ronan before classes start in the fall.”

About 100 computers are currently available in the Grawn lab. The finished Ronan space will have 65 terminals available.

The public computing spaces will have access to printing capability, Rehm said, which will accessible from the virtual lab.

The College of Business is creating classroom space and 10 individual meeting rooms in the remodeled Ronan facility, said Charles Crespy, College of Business Administration dean.

“In Grawn you will be tied to using your own machine, but there will be a really nice place for you to do it,” Rehm said.

Crespy said the relocated lab is still accessible, as it is about 50 yards away from the current location. He said the lab’s new hours will be extended beyond 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“We are going to transform that space to a more student-friendly facility,” Crespy said. “It will grow and much better serve the entrepreneurship program and other programs we have in the college of business.”

Crespy said the project is funded by a $500,000 gift from Isabella Bank and will begin construction in late August. The university is still soliciting donations for the renovation, which will cost $920,000.

“There are a few details that still need to be tied up,” he said. “We have other sources of funding.”

Class opportunities

Crespy said an instructor could teach a class in a traditional classroom in the space during one instruction period and then allow students to break out into groups in individual rooms in another, allowing the instructor to filter in and out of each individual group session.

“This creates more dynamic classroom opportunities and (allows) a class to meet in a hybrid fashion, which would allow us to double book the classrooms,” Crespy said. “There’s a huge shortage of team-building and team-exercising places on campus.”

The remodeled area will be accessible to all students, but entrepreneurship students will have first priority in accessing the area.

“This is a really positive thing for College of Business students and an opportunity to ... modernize the way we teach,” Crespy said.

The adjacent study room is getting a remodel as well, Crespy said, with a “significant amount of money” being used to update the technology and vending machines in the room.

The Bovee University Center will also receive additional meeting and study space, said Steve Lawrence, associate vice president of Facilities Management, in a May 2010 interview. Its renovation is set to be completed in December.