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CCU Atheneum: Amy Edmunds, right, a communication lecturer whose office has moved to the Foundation Center, jokes with Sallie Clarkson who just found her a new chair to replace an old one she was using.
Amy Edmunds, right, a communication lecturer whose office has moved to the Foundation Center, jokes with Sallie Clarkson who just found her a new chair to replace an old one she was using.

Where to put 54 (and counting) new faculty?

by Mona Prufer
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The sight of Sallie Clarkson walking toward your office with her padded black binder in hand might give you pause. After all, it could mean you’ll soon be packing up your office and moving down the hall or across the highway.

Clarkson, associate provost for academic administration, is in charge of the allocation of academic space on campus and, by default, furniture allotment. She is the staffer who has the hardest job of the summer: finding places for the more than 54 new faculty (hires are still being made) – each of whom needs a desk, computer, telephone, bookcase and filing drawer – on our increasingly crowded campus.

On this particular day, Clarkson is eyeing a room full of wall-to-wall desks, large black metal bookcases and metal grey filing cabinets. It’s room 204 in Kearns Hall, which is soon to be a “bullpen” of offices for adjunct professors.

She can count ceiling tiles and tell you the dimensions of the room. She spends a lot of time in meetings, on the phone and sprinting across campus to measure a space or a grouping of furniture. She can tell you which desks go into the bullpens, and which go into a tenured faculty or tenure-track faculty member’s office(lecturers desks are typically smaller).

A large whiteboard in Clarkson’s office is full of the daily work orders she puts in: move this desk over here, install an electrical outlet, fix a leaking roof in this office, clean used furniture going into another office. It’s a mass of detail, about 40 items on this particular day:

Move eight computer tables from 79th Avenue Center to warehouse.

Replace directional signs in Edwards.

Georgetown fridge to Sands.

Keys for comm. lecturers.

Install fence.

Not only are there 54 new faculty members to find a home for, but there are also entire departments being moved, and staff and faculty who are moving out of portables who must find a new office “home.” She works closely with staffers in the Department of Facilities Planning and Management, with whom she speaks often.

“It’s a challenge,” says Clarkson, who has been at the task of campus space allocation and reallocation for two years. She was previously in collection management at Kimbel Library. “Right now I’m in a tailspin since it’s just a couple of weeks before faculty come back to campus.”

A trip to the Coastal Science Center and some energetic discussion with faculty there over a sink for a lab and a wall that might need moving are examples of negotiations that are going on during this time of packing and moving and making do until a new office building is constructed.

“I’m not always popular, but we do try to keep everybody happy.”

The Thomas W. and Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts, for instance, has hired 19 new tenured/tenure-track faculty and 11 new full-time lecturers for the fall. But they won’t all go into the humanities building. Half of the Department of Politics and Geography moved to Arcadia Hall, and the Department of History (including Anthropology and Archaeology) relocated to Sands Hall. A number of lecturers in the Department of Communication will be housed in the Foundation Center, along with the new student TV studio and other facilities. Still others will go into the Prince Building.

“It’s been an extraordinary year,” says Clarkson of the searches for new faculty. “I don’t think we’ve ever hired this many faculty at once.”

The process of situating a new faculty member begins with the offer letter that includes a list of several basic computer choices. Once that decision is made, the new faculty person sends the computer request to Gene Carlisle in Information Technology Services (ITS) who orders the computers in bulk. By then, Clarkson has already ordered the furniture from Prison Industries and other vendors based on the number of searches going on.

“I treat a search as a new person,” says Clarkson, “It’s a guess, but it’s an educated guess. We have to put in those orders early so the furniture is delivered in time – this year it took from April 21 to July 21 to receive all the orders. Though right now, I wish I had ordered more desks.”

“Managing campus space is a lot like herding cats,” according to the website for the Society for College and University Planning. “The nature of academia and the distributed management of schools, colleges, departments and campuses make measuring, planning for and managing space a formidable task.”

Clarkson knows this firsthand.

“Do I look like a deer in headlights?” she replies when asked if she’ll be ready for new faculty by Aug. 18. “I’m concerned that something obvious has fallen off the path.”

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