Feature Article

Breaking New Ground for Lasell's Future

A Great Space for Possibilities, Experimentation and Success

A view from Taylor Field of what will become the new Academic Center

The College officially breaks ground on its new Academic Center Saturday, May 14, and 19 months later a state-of-the-art facility will open that promises to alter both the campus and the way students learn here.

The groundwork for this project has been laid: including a new core curriculum that celebrates interdisciplinary collaboration, steadily growing enrollment of bright, entrepreneurial students and a talented and innovative group of faculty. It is commonly acknowledged that the community needed a place to support innovative instruction and learning for the 21st century workplace.

And they will have one.

"This project is transformational for the College; it will change the look, the feel, the whole experience of Lasell for the entire community," says Vice President for Academic Affairs James Ostrow. "With the most modern Science and Athletic Training (AT) laboratories, flexible classrooms designed entirely around interactive, problem-focused teaching and learning, clustered faculty offices and gathering spaces blending into a beautiful bookstore, the new academic center is truly something to look forward to."

The new center will be located where Wass and Wolfe Halls now stand. Wass Hall will be demolished, and Wolfe Hall will be renovated to form one center that will house:

• 16 25-person classrooms
• three 50-person classrooms that can be divided
• 30 faculty offices
• six lab spaces
• five reservable study rooms for students
• men's, women's and gender neutral bathrooms
• an elevator
• an outside plaza and a new bookstore open to the lobby and,
• a new café and an IT Helpdesk counter.

One of the most noticeable changes for students and faculty will be the new labs - which will enable the Science faculty and, separately, Athletic Training and Exercise Science faculty to work closely together and tackle more real-world problems. Each group will be located on its own floor to provide their students with increased hands-on work, analysis and space for collaboration.

"As part of the new Core Curriculum, the Science department has moved to inquiry-based coursework that focuses less on content memorization and more on the process of science. That is to say, how do scientists approach and solve problems?," Professor of Chemistry Kim Farah tells Leaves.

Farah adds that students will be better able to complete project-based work, such as testing the effects of the environment on brine shrimp, studying the biomechanics of human motion and conducting air and water quality studies, which in the past have been a challenge to schedule and accomplish in the current facilities.

Athletic Training Professor and Athletic Training and Exercise Science Chair Cristina Haverty is equally excited about the new opportunities that the center will create saying, "the space itself, the square footage, is huge for us because now the rooms are physically too small."

The new labs will allow for a dedicated Athletic Training lab and an Exercise Science lab, Haverty explains, that will enable professors to bring in equipment the students would see and use when they begin their professional careers.

"The new AT lab will be a full-blown simulated lab with room for tables and equipment. They will be learning in an environment that will immerse them in the professional industry setting," she adds.

Students also will have more space to engage in movement analysis and gait analysis and space will be created for a patient simulation lab. Using the program TeachLive, students will try out their skills working with a virtual patient on screen.

"That's important for us," Haverty says. "All the research in Athletic Training shows that simulation is critical to help our students be successful."

The new academic center will also be better able to accommodate the storage of chemicals, the College's new Syndaver (synthetic cadaver) for anatomy and physiology courses, and will provide room for bigger and better experiments.

"With the addition of lab space there will be an opportunity to have students and faculty work together on projects. For example, we are hoping to have light shelves where students can do longer-term experiments on plants," Farah says.

The labs will also be available for use in a collaborative way. For example, a new Chemistry in Art and Fashion class, offered for the first time this spring, would be able to grow.

"Students and faculty would like to see more sections of this course offered and having the additional lab space will allow for this," Farah adds.

The new building will greatly improve collaboration among faculty in the sciences and also allow for additional space for creative and innovative applications of the new Core Curriculum.

Catherine Zeek, Director of the RoseMary B. Fuss Teaching and Learning Center and professor of Education, says the new academic center will provide much needed flexibility in seating, classroom configuration and access to technology to support major changes in the curriculum.

"The redesigned History 104, one of the Knowledge Perspectives courses, and the Core Ethics course taken by juniors, both rely on a mix of large group and breakout sections meetings," Zeek says. "With the ability to adjust the capacity of classrooms [in the new center], faculty and students will have the flexibility they need to plan varied activities during class time."

The new classrooms, which can adjust to seat between 25 and 50 students, will specifically lend themselves to the new Multidisciplinary Course that sophomores complete, where each section enrolls 40 students and is taught by a team of faculty.

"This new design will enhance both teaching and learning," says Zeek.

The new center will also enable collaboration on an informal level with an open lobby, café and the outdoor plaza.

According to Haverty, these new facilities will help draw other faculty members and students to the building from across campus, affording additional spaces for formal and informal discussion and interaction.

"There is something to be said for having a meeting space on this side of campus. It will attract people. Having a social hub will bring people together, period," Haverty adds.

Whether the building is celebrated for its academic, collaborative or social improvements, the new academic center will no doubt set the course for Lasell's future.

Haverty adds, "We have been able to grow and develop with what we had, but this will allow us to plow forward and solidly place us in the educational market as producers of future generations in [our professions]."

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