Temporarily out of order

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November 13, 2009

12:24 AM

Walk into Tyler Hall on a typical afternoon, and it is virtually silent. This is one of the features of the building that some professors find most objectionable.

“The problem is there’s not much social congregating here,” English professor Adam Potkay said. “It used to be you would walk in [to St. George Tucker Hall] and there were people everywhere. Students would sit outside, hang out in the front hall, in the office. Now, it’s always quiet. I think the secretary’s lonely, because most of us just go in to check our mailboxes and leave.”

This semester, both the English and linguistics departments have moved into Tyler for unspecified durations while Tucker, historically used as the library and the law school, prepares for major renovations. While there is plenty to look forward to with Tucker’s renovations — new classrooms, spacious student lounges and an all-around homey feel — the temporary location is not without problems.

“The environment here is difficult,” professor Monica Potkay said. “Most English classes are discussion based, and the way the classrooms [in Tyler] are set up, they’re set up for lectures. It’s hard to get things started.”

It is not just the classrooms that have changed.

“My old office was just beautiful,” Adam Potkay, said sitting in his desk chair in his new first-floor Tyler office. “I was up on the third floor, which was designed as offices for law professors, so they were really nice, and I had it painted red.”

The walls in his new space are bright white. Even with the loss of his old office, Potkay says his new space has its benefits, such as the view.

“I have more shelf space here,” Potkay said, gesturing at at his packed shelves. “Almost all of us have these big windows … I can look out here at the leaves falling and the Sunken Garden. It’s very … English.”
While some enjoy the new view, not all the displaced professors find themselves completely satisfied.
“Although my office is pretty and sunny, it is usually very, very cold,” professor Deborah Morse said. “I rarely work there because of this, which is a shame.”

Monica Potkay said that Morse’s complaint is not uncommon.

“I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the heating and air conditioning in the building,” she said, “[But] there’s no sewer smell [in Tyler], and Tucker also had a lot of heating problems.”

Logistics are another problem for many of the professors. True to stereotypes, many of the English and linguistics’s professors’ offices in Tucker were filled with many years worth of books, manuscripts and stacks of papers, all of which had to be moved to their new locations.

“I have so very many books, and about half of them won’t fit into my new, smaller office in Tyler,” Monica Potkay said. “They are, therefore, stacked everywhere in my office.”

While there are professors who are uncomfortable with the move, some view the change as positive.

“I love it,” professor Nancy Schoenberger said. “I have a nicer office, nicer view. I will always have a sentimental fondness for Tucker, but I was way up on the third floor, and I felt very isolated from the rest of the department.”

Schoenberger’s new office is on the first floor, just around the corner from the main office. For most professors, the biggest challenge was the move itself.

“It’s always hard moving,” Schoenberger said. “It’s hard to give away books. But there is something satisfying in getting rid of 20 year old papers, a nice healthy domestic purge, if you will.”

While the changes are frustrating, Monica Potkay emphasized that the move is only temporary and the professors will have to make do.

It is unknown how long professors will be dealing with the switch. With the plans and the budget for Tucker’s renovations submitted to the state, all that is needed now are the funds.

Tyler is fine for now, but no matter how well they have adapted, many of the professors don’t feel quite at home in the new building.

“The building doesn’t have quite the same character,” Adam Potkay said. “Things here are a little too … white.”

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