School of Education may expand to Orovitz Building for grad students

NEW DIGS: A proposed plan would move grad school students in the School of Education to the second floor of the Max Orovitz Building. STEVEN STUTS // Hurricane Staff
NEW DIGS: A proposed plan would move grad school students in the School of Education to the second floor of the Max Orovitz Building. STEVEN STUTS // Hurricane Staff

If plans continue as scheduled, the Solomon G. Merrick Building will no longer be the only home to the School of Education. Part of the school will move across campus to the Max Orovitz Building, past Alex Rodriguez Park, to provide more space for graduate and research work.

Shawn Post, associate dean of the School of Education, said that the move will not affect undergraduate students. Undergraduates will remain at the Merrick Building, close to the rest of campus and the nearby West Lab School, where they can complete student teaching. Instead, the ones impacted by this move include research faculty and graduate students and assistants that currently operate out of the seventh floor of Merrick.

“It’s really going to serve a graduate function,” Post said. “Graduate doctoral students will have a space there for them to work.”

Built in 1926, Merrick is the oldest building on the UM campus. The fourth through seventh floors, known as “the towers,” are where graduate students from various schools work. School of Education Dean Isaac Prilleltensky allocated the seventh floor solely to School of Education graduate students, but their needs have since outgrown the space. The room on the seventh floor is not much bigger than a regular size classroom, and the workstations, consisting of tables and computers, can accommodate only five to six graduate students at time.

If plans go accordingly, the second floor of the Orovitz Building, located at 1507 Levante Ave., will provide grad students with the additional space they need for academic purposes by becoming home to the newly established Community and Educational Well-Being (CEW) Center. According to a proposal submitted to the university, the purpose of the CEW Center is to “strengthen the research capacity of the School of Education by providing the necessary infrastructure and technical support for integrative scholarship and the development of large-scale research projects.”

Etiony Aldarondo, associate dean for Research and director of the CEW Center, said the school’s current research center is a single corridor located in room 319 of Merrick that occupies approximately 300 to 400 square feet. The CEW Center, however, will provide 10,000 square feet and house 50 cubicles, 14 offices, and a conference room for research support staff and graduate assistants.

“It’s a good facility, a good space, where you are going to have a critical mass of researchers that are working to promote the education of the community,” Aldarondo said.

Although the move may separate grad students from the heart of campus, Aldarondo said that it will be beneficial to have the students work closely with the research faculty.

“In an ideal world we would like to have everybody here as a hub,” Aldarondo said. “The reality is we are going to have a place that is intellectually stimulating to the students. They are going to not only have access, but they are going to be involved in an ongoing basis with the research process.”

The move is expected to be complete by the end of this summer. The university centralized services that currently work on the second floor of Orovitz, such as the payroll and human resources departments, will be moving across the street to Gables One Tower, located on US-1.