Construction of five new classrooms in the public health school basement will begin in April to accommodate the school's rapid growth in the last few years.
The new classrooms are needed to keep up with the growth of both the public health college, which houses four undergraduate programs including kinesiology, the sixth-largest major at the University of Maryland. The construction will cost $5.9 million and is expected to end in the fall 2019, Capital Projects Director Bill Olen said.
The new building will include five classrooms, called learning studios, as well as research space for professors. The classrooms will have modular walls, which means they are able to be moved to accommodate a need for more space.
The new classrooms will replace two locker rooms and cover roughly 11,000 square feet, Olen said. These locker rooms are generally only utilized by faculty, rather than students, said Amanda Grimes, the finance and administration assistant dean for the public health college. Of the four locker rooms in the building, two are for faculty only.
Grimes said she hopes that these new classrooms will be as engaging as the ones in the Edward St. John Learning and Teaching Center.
"The faculty loves to teach [there], because of the fact that you can do different teaching styles and really integrate them into helping the students' experience," Grimes said. "This is our chance to make classrooms that do that."
Junior public health science major Nophar Yarden said that more dynamic classrooms can enhance students' experience.
"To keep a clear mind, you want the building to look nice," Yarden said. "It helps you from getting distracted while studying."
Senior public health science major Kate Bosley said the new classrooms could help provide students with more resources.
"It would definitely be good to have more study spaces in the School of Public Health," she said, "and I think it would be useful to have more [study and research] tools on this side of campus."
The public health college has also seen a rise in enrollment in the newest major, public health science, which was created four years ago. According to the Office of Institutional Research, Planning, and Assessment reports for fall 2017, 852 students listing it as their primary major.
It also reports the public health college has 2,285 undergraduate students, which Grimes expects to grow.
Construction is not expected to affect classes, though in preparation for construction, the locker room will be unavailable beginning Saturday. Any faculty or staff who use the locker room will be able to continue using the designated staff locker rooms in the basement of the School of Public Health, which will be unaffected by construction.
The majority of construction will take place over the summer when the building is mostly empty, Grimes said. During the school year, only one teaching lab will be out of service.