Departments, Classes Returning to East College Fall 2019


Jacob DeCarli '22, Associate Managing Editor

Displaced departments will return to East College when it reopens in fall 2019 after a year of closure due to an asbestos outbreak.

The academic building closed for asbestos removal after spring 2018. Professors in the English, creative writing, classical studies, religion and philosophy departments had to relocate their offices to the Historic President’s House, Denny Hall, Allison Community Hall and the Waidner-Spahr library. 

Kristen Kostecky, associate vice president for campus operations and facilities management,  said via email that the same departments whose offices were originally located in East College will return in the fall and that no new departments will be moving into the building.

Greg Steirer, assistant professor of English and film studies, said he is excited to move back to East College. Steirer, whose office was relocated to the Historic President’s House, explained that the space in East College is “more conducive to faculty-student interactions…no one is ever in the [Historic President’s] House except faculty and the academic coordinator.” Steirer said it was common to see students studying in East College in a lounge area or the lobby. “Students also tend[ed] to drop by our office hours more often,” Steirer said. 

Claire Seiler, associate professor of English and department chair of American studies, said she has enjoyed her one-year “visit to Denny” because she got to know “lots of colleagues in different departments.” Seiler said it was convenient for her to be relocated to Denny while she chairs the American studies department. 

Seiler said she recognized the disappointment for some current seniors whose major departments were in East College prior to the temporary closure. “Many of them have fond memories of intense, engaging seminars in East College classrooms and casual conversations among students and faculty in the English Department lounge,” Seiler said. 

In the philosophy department, professors were relocated to Allison Hall. That location also proved challenging to student-faculty interaction. Chauncey Maher, associate professor of philosophy, said he is eager to move back to his old office because “working in Allison Hall has been tolerable but not ideal.” 

Maher said that because four professors split two rooms between themselves they had to find new ways to meet with students. “Doing my own reading and writing in that arrangement hasn’t worked well for me, so I’ve worked more at home than usual,” Maher said. Maher said professors do not see students in Allison Hall as frequently as they did in East College because classes are not held in Allison. 

Some seniors are frustrated by the new locations of their department’s offices. Philosophy major Gabrielle Corti ’19 said her department’s location in Allison Hall is not as convenient as its East College location. “It feels unfair that all the departments from East College were relocated to other convenient spots on campus, but the entire philosophy department is essentially in the middle of nowhere now,” Corti said. She said she should have spent the most time with her professors outside of class this year, her senior year, but “It’s actually ended up being the year where I spend the least amount of time with my professors due to the location.”

Other upperclassman students share the same frustrations but are looking forward to the re-opening of East College. Stephanie Klein ’21, a classical studies major, said she feels misplaced on campus “like a biology student not in Rector.”