Will $20 million McCormick renovations fulfill expectations?


Caleb B

An empty McCormick building is void of the hustle and bustle that used to fill it.

Novalea Verno, Staff Writer

The McCormick Center for Human Services has officially locked its doors to students and staff to prepare for its upcoming renovation.

McCormick’s closure was scheduled to occur following the end of the fall semester. Faculty and staff were instructed to pack up their offices so a team of movers could transport their items into their newly relocated spaces. The majority of faculty was relocated to the Waller Administration Building, Navy Hall and Old Science Hall.

The move out of McCormick proved a bit laborious as the Facilities for Planning and Construction department, the department in charge of all renovations on campus, had to be mindful of the timing of the move-out. They wanted to ensure that professors had enough time to put in grades for the semester and prepare for potential winter classes.

“We wanted to be respectful of the faculty,” said Stacy Wagner, the Associate Vice President of the Facilities Management department.

While visible progress has been made within the last month, preparations for the closure and renovation have been going on behind the scenes for years. Countless zoom meetings, in-person consultations and conversations with deans and faculty members have been had in order to plan out every single detail of this colossal project.

“It’s not something we do overnight,” said Emil Mikle, the Assistant Director of the Facilities for Planning and Construction department.

Faculty and staff have been kept in the loop of this planning process in an attempt to eliminate as much uncertainty as possible.

“We’ve been involved in planning for this since before COVID. Our first meeting was in January of 2020. A lot was put on hold or delayed due to COVID and we hit a lot of bumps along the way…” said Video Production Specialist, Asa Kelley.

Kelley works within the Instructional Media Services department which used to be located in McCormick.

Moving for our department has been a very complex process.  Most faculty and staff just have to pack one or two offices and some supplies. Our department is responsible for [moving] two TV studios, a radio station, a server equipment room, several computer labs, equipment storage [and] our own offices,” said Kelley.

Moving those stations has proven to be more difficult than anticipated. The TV station has been relocated to the Centennial Gym. There were several construction and electrical changes that had to be made in order for the studio to function properly in the new space.

Small hiccups like this have been anticipated by the facilities team.

“There’s never a move or construction project that is pain-free,” said Wagner.

In light of the upcoming plans for the McCormick building, many are willing to push through these challenges to keep the project on schedule.

This extensive remodeling is the finale of a process called the “life cycle.” The life cycle is the way the Facilities Management department measures the “life” of each building on campus.

“Every building on campus has a life cycle of roughly thirty years,” said Mikle.

Twenty years into a building’s existence a series of steps are taken in order to evaluate its current state. When this process begins, members of the department take a look at the building and determine what needs to be fixed or improved. From there, faculty and staff are interviewed to see what concerns they may have about the building or provide any input on potential improvements. A study is then created providing an in-depth analysis of the building and all input from interviews. Closer to the thirty-year mark of a building’s life cycle, the study gets updated and submitted for funding.

“[The life cycle] is quite tedious,” remarked Wagner.

The renovation is a twenty-million-dollar project. Both Mikle and Wagner promise that the new building will reflect that impressive number.

“You won’t recognize it,” said Wagner.

The building will undergo a complete gutting, allowing all new infrastructure to be put in place. New fixtures and communication spaces (radio station, television station, etc.) will be put in.

While the whole campus is eager to see the renovation completed, nobody’s excitement can be compared to the professors and staff members who have called McCormick their home over the last several years.

“I just keep looking forward to the new office I’ll move into after construction which will have a window for the first time in my 20-year career,” said Kelley.

An empty McCormick building is void of the hustle and bustle that used to fill it. (Caleb B)