Master Plan Unfolds
Sarah McQueen

The University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point has plans for a new academic building, specifically for biology and chemistry, to be erected sometime around the spring of 2015.

The Master Plan Report, which can be viewed on the UWSP website, states that a new academic building is needed to satisfy space deficiencies on campus. Also, because teaching and learning has changed to include more group learning, larger rooms are needed. The report states that it will be more efficient to build a new facility than to try and update the current building to fit the growing needs of the campus.

 “The timing is really good because we are going through this large general education program change,” said Chris Yahnke, chair of the biology department. “So we’re being asked to incorporate things like communication in the major. We’ve had a really hard time thinking of how we would do it in such a confined space. So being able to expand a little bit will be helpful.”

When the building is finished, it will house the entire chemistry department and half of the biology department. The Master Plan Report outlines some ideas for demolishing parts of the current science building, but no plans for that are definite yet.  The new building will go in what is currently Lot X, just east of the science building.

Yahnke said that the combination of chemistry and biology into one building should promote collaboration between the two fields. Molecular biology and physiology feature a lot of crossover with chemistry, and collaboration could be helpful.

There are plans for a greenhouse in the new building design. The idea is to bring the students to the plants, which Yahnke believes will be very beneficial. The greenhouse will also be in a public space. The new building will include many improved and modern facilities, including the possibility of a new cadaver lab.

Plans for the vacated spaces in the TNR and Science building have not yet been solidified.

“It’s a two-pronged process. First is get those people out and into the new building, then the second part is backfilling. So that is a completely separate proposal,” Yahnke said. 

Christopher Cirmo, Dean of the College of Letters and Science, said that it is too soon to be able to say what will happen with the vacated space in the science building.

“There are a lot of possibilities. There are many competing academic programs who have interest in that space,” Cirmo said.

“It’s been a bit of a struggle actually, because we’re too big to all fit into the new building. All of chemistry is going and only half of biology. So now we determined who stays and who goes,” Yahnke said. “We enjoy our colleges, and by splitting us into two buildings there is going to be less interaction. The department office will likely be in the new building. We’re serving a lot of CNR students with this, which is one of the reasons we made the division the way we did.”

With the new building, the TNR will gain more room for their mammal, bird and insect collections. UWSP is the only school in the area to hold some of the collections, which means classes that utilize the collections can only be taught here. The new building will allow room for these collections to grow and be properly housed.