Building services gradually empty Lincoln Hall in anticipation of funding

Erica Magda

Erica Magda

By Colleen Vest

Superstitious students who once rubbed the nose of the Lincoln statue in Lincoln Hall before an exam were without their good luck routine this semester.

Lincoln Hall, which usually holds classes, offices and various student events, stood almost completely empty this semester in anticipation for renovations of the 97-year-old building.

“Facility and building services decided at the beginning of the year not to put courses in Lincoln Hall,” said Jen Themanson, associate registrar for building management and scheduling. “If construction starts, we would not have the ability to relocate all the classes that are regularly scheduled.”

The campus has been working on a relocation plan for the renovation for the last five years, Themanson said.

“Some final exams, RSOs and tutoring programs are scheduled to take place on the first floor of Lincoln Hall this semester, but no classes,” Themanson said.

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While classes no longer take place in Lincoln Hall, some department offices and student events remained. Sociology, political science and communication department offices are still on the first floor as well as the dean’s office, said Matthew Tomaszewski, assistant dean for LAS.

In August, graduate students located in the basement were evacuated to the first floor due to a safety concern.

“We’ve been planning to move them out of the basement this semester,” said communication department head Barbara Wilson. “They have heard this story before, and it’s almost like they can’t believe it.”

Communications graduate students were moved from Lincoln Hall to a new location, 704 S. Sixth Street, in September, Tomaszewski said.

“We had to secure a space for the Communications grad students on Sixth Street in late August,” he said. “It wasn’t ready yet, so they had to move to the first floor.”

State funding totaling approximately $55 million for the renovations to the inside of Lincoln Hall is still being processed and discussed by state officials, Tomaszewski said.

“Currently, with the state’s budget, I don’t think it’s going to be on the top of the government’s list,” said Jaclyn O’Day, student body president and senior in LAS. “It didn’t pass last year, but you never know.”

During a meeting of the Academic Facilities Maintenance Fund Assessment board, $9 million was allocated for repairs on the exterior in an attempt to prevent further water damage, O’Day said.

“The big issue is that we cannot conduct classes in this building because they’re not conducive to learning,” said Wilson.

What to look for next semester:

Lincoln Hall’s situation will remain the same for Spring 2009 – no classes, but a small amount of events, offices and final exams remain scheduled.

The interior renovations depend entirely on state funding. However, exterior work and roof repairs may begin after graduation this spring, Tomaszewski said.

“If funding comes through, we will completely evacuate for construction in the fall,” Tomaszewski said. “But that’s very optimistic, even though we are the first building on the state funding list.”

If construction were to begin in Fall 2009, Lincoln Hall would remain empty until at least 2012.