College of Arts & Sciences, graduate school offices move to Cupples II along with undergraduate research office

Newly renovated space ‘feels good to be together under one roof’

Arts & Sciences students will have to look in a new place this year to find their advisers and other administrative services.

The College of Arts & Sciences moved its offices over the summer to the first floor of Cupples II Hall, which has been renovated over the past year.

In addition, the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and the Office of Undergraduate Research have new homes in Cupples II. The building is located near one of the busiest intersections on campus: Eads Hall and Olin Library.

“Cupples II is one of our historic Cope & Stewardson buildings so I am very pleased that we were able to complete this major renovation and restoration,” says Gary S. Wihl, PhD, dean of the faculty of Arts & Sciences and the Hortense and Tobias Lewin Distinguished Professor in the Humanities.

“For Arts & Sciences, this move is significant because it presents a visible balance between two of our most central units: the College and the Graduate School.”

The college had outgrown its 5,000-square-foot space at 205 South Brookings Hall. Wihl and his staff will remain in Brookings Hall.

“It is obvious that each unit gained in their square footage,” says Dzenana Mruckovski, director of facilities for Arts & Sciences. “But more importantly, it is the quality and functionality of the space that was gained.”

The interior renovation of Cupples II included new air-conditioning systems, a new electrical system, an elevator and disabled-access chair lift, new restrooms and all new interior finishes. Eight classrooms were added to the university’s pooled classroom system.

The Office of Undergraduate Research has moved to Suite 306, a much larger space than its old home, which was tucked away almost incognito in a corner of the College of Arts & Sciences’ offices in Umrath Hall.

The Undergraduate Research Office promotes and facilitates research by undergraduates in all disciplines.

“It’s nice to have a dedicated office space for undergraduate research,” says Joy Z. Kiefer, PhD, assistant dean of undergraduate research. “We serve all four schools, so it’s a nice location to be in contact with all the schools.”

Besides much larger offices for each of the four-member staff, undergraduate research gets a new space to host events. “We now have this beautiful gallery wall so we can showcase student presentations,” Kiefer says.

And perhaps best of all, they now have prominent signage announcing the presence of the Office of Undergraduate Research. “It makes a nice impression in terms of the institution’s dedication to that experience for all undergraduates in varied disciplines.”

The second floor of Cupples II now hosts the administrative functions of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, including the registrar’s office, business office and student aid office.

“This is a major long-term improvement in the facilities of the graduate school,” says Richard J. Smith, PhD, dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. “We have more space and better space. The corridors are wider. It is easier to move from one office to another to communicate.”

But most importantly, the graduate school offices are in the same building as the undergraduate school.

“It was Dean Gary Wihl’s idea to move the college and graduate school together into new space that reflected well on Arts & Sciences in general,” Smith says. “I believe, as did the late Dean Jim McLeod, that there will be many advantages to having both sets of offices near each other.”

The graduate school’s old space on the first floor of West Umrath Hall also was a very good campus location, Smith says, but perhaps Cupples II has an edge in that it is closer to Brookings Hall and bit more central.

The Liberman Graduate Center, which opened in 2008 in the Danforth University Center, will remain there, providing a welcoming environment for graduate and professional student groups and events. Five Arts & Sciences graduate school staff members remain based at the center.

“Cupples II is busy with activity from undergraduate and graduate students,” says Marilyn Chill, director of operations for the College of Arts & Sciences.

“While we are enjoying new extras in our new location, such as meeting and storage and filing space, the most important advantage is that our new space in Cupples II has allowed us to reunite the deans and staff who, since August 2007, occupied spaces in both Umrath and South Brookings halls. It’s better efficiency to be working within the same space, and it just feels good to be together under one roof.

“We’ve been transitioning and adjusting well. Our new space is beautiful and is a more convenient location for students. I hope the Arts & Sciences students will find their new home inviting and comfortable,” Chill says.

The Cupples II renovation took 11 months, following six months of design work, and involved more than 100 design and construction professionals, says Michael Benoist, project manager with Facilities Planning and Management.

About 60 Arts & Sciences employees were involved in the move. “I am grateful to all of them for their dedication and patience in this complicated project,” Benoist says.