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Van Munching Hall expansion to be completed in 2011

By Mark Miller
On October 18, 2010

An upcoming project will change the face of Van Munching Hall and create a new career center, said Smith School of Business staff.

The South Tower Extension will bring all four stories of a 60-foot span of Van Munching Hall 20 feet closer to Mowatt Lane across from the University of Maryland Hillel, according to building manager Christine Stewart.

"We actually expanded it as far as we could to Mowatt Lane," Stewart said of the planning for the construction project.

The expanded second floor will house a new career center for the Smith School. Staff suggested the current career center on the fourth floor of Van Munching Hall is too remote and does not meet the standards of rival schools like Duke University and the University of North Carolina, important factors Stewart and others considered in coming up with plans for the new facility.

"We need to have a more robust employer area," said Stewart, who noted that, while the interview space is comparable between the Smith School's current career center and the career services facilities at Duke and North Carolina, the employer areas at those schools are more "upscale."

Stewart said the new career center would also include a student prep area for interviewees to "decompress" before, after and between interviews, a feature she said the other universities she looked at did not have at their career centers.

Unfortunately, one of the results of the South Tower Extension project, scheduled for completion by the Fall 2011 semester, is a large number of staff displacements. Associate Dean Patricia Cleveland is one of 123 staff members Stewart described as "impacted" by the construction.

"All of the people who had an office at the back of the building facing Mowatt Lane" were moved, said Cleveland, who was forced to move from Room 1570 to an office on the third floor.

"The other people who were on that back wall are all over the place," said Cleveland.

According to Stewart, Smith Information Technology and the MBA Office are two of the few departments not affected by the project. She said no faculty members have been forced to move across the building, although Cleveland said a number of undergraduate advisors moved offices within the suite.

Although Cleveland expressed exasperation over the chaos caused by the series of office-switching, she agreed the project would ultimately benefit the Smith School

"[Robert Smith] gave us this gift, and then he passed away," Cleveland said. "So, we're really just fulfilling his wishes."

Stewart said Smith wanted to improve career services at the school that bears his name, and before his death last December, he contributed an undisclosed gift toward the estimated $8.7 million price tag of the extension. The Smith School will pay the rest, and Stewart said she expects no financial assistance from the University System.

Whiting–Turner are the builders for the South Tower Extension, while Melville Thomas Architects drew up the plans for the addition.

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