By Kyle Rempfer
The public health school is making headway on a massive renovation project that will include more office space, research labs and instructional facilities to meet the demands of years of enrollment growth in the college.
The project is entering its second phase, which involves a $370,000 renovation that will create 10 advising offices in the building by Thanksgiving, said Mark Brenneman, director of academic facilities and operations for the public health school.
The new offices will add room to the existing Center for Academic Success and Achievement office space, which offers student services like coursework assistance, academic coaching and disability support, Brenneman said.
This follows the public health school's recently completed first phase of renovations, which included a new teaching and research lab with cardio equipment for the kinesiology department, Brenneman said.
Additional construction will start spring 2018, and is expected to be completed after summer 2018, although the public health school has not finished estimating the needed funding for this phase, said Bill Olen, director of capital projects.
These renovations will demolish a section of locker rooms to create a 3,300-square-foot space devoted to department research, Brenneman said.
Within the kinesiology department, a lot of research involves taking cardiovascular measurements of participants engaging in physical activity, such as running on a treadmill, Brenneman said.
"Just being able to have research participants come in from the community and be able to have access to water because they're working out and the ability to shower is a component we're working into these new spaces," Brenneman said.
In addition to the kinesiology labs, the school will also expand the existing aerobiology lab to make it easier to study airborne contagious diseases such as influenza, said Donald Milton, a professor of environmental and occupational health at the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health.
"This new lab is something that has been long-awaited," Milton said.
The renovations are part of an effort to accommodate the department's growth over the last few years, Olen said.
"I know that it has been a priority for the provost to support that expansion of the school of public health," Olen said. "So, there's been quite a bit of work over the last three to four years."
The inclusion of the public health science major in 2014 — which has enrolled close to a thousand students — has also pushed the college to hire more faculty, Brenneman said.
Because the students in the major take classes across multiple departments, such as kinesiology and environmental health, the public health school has had to increase faculty across the board, Brenneman said.
Eight years ago, when there was a lot of money for construction, the public health school had lobbied for a similarly advanced aerobiology lab, Milton said. However, the brand new school didn't attract the funding, he added.
"Now that we're 10 years old and the provost is investing the money, it's really exciting to see this happen," Milton said.