As the final boxes are unpacked, faculty members make the shift from Patterson to playgrounds.
For EWU history, English, composition, journalism and philosophy instructors who were relocated to Reid Elementary, the biggest worry coming back from winter break wasn’t the lines of cars halted by icy roads, but instead lines of teachers at the copy machine.
“Everyone was still confused on how it was going to be, where it was going to be and even what their office number was, so they couldn’t put it on their syllabus,” said English 101 instructor Brent Schaeffer.
Last Monday, faculty members officially moved into what will be their temporary offices for the next two to four years while Patterson Hall is under construction. The move follows the dean’s office move to Hargreaves Hall and has been in the works for more than a year.
Although given preliminary tours and time over the break to check out the new “office space,” faculty didn’t know which of the roughly 10 cubicles in each room would be theirs until the first morning of winter quarter.
Minor mayhem ensued as faculty scrambled to make last second changes to their course plans before their first class of the new year. “It was kind of a kerfuffle,” Schaeffer said.
Despite the first day of confusion, professors are becoming accustomed to the new space and reconnecting with their early educational years.
“Everything smells like little kid hands,” said Teacher’s Assistant Sarah Murphy. Her office came with a view of the former school’s jungle gym.
The office wing still resembles an elementary school; crude drawings of giraffes and bug-eyed purple cats grace the walls. Signs remind professors about the policy of politeness and the value of washing your hands. Each hall is lined with 3-foot lockers signed by students during the school’s last days and thigh-high drinking fountains. “It’s surreal. You feel like a giant,” Schaffer said.
The professors have actually had more troubles with the adaptation to a business office setting than anything. “The tough part is we’re in cubicles … So while I’m talking to you, there are three people who can hear this conversation,” Schaffer said.
The faculty at Reid are “refugees” of the Patterson renovation. Teachers were given notice last winter quarter that they would be moving to either Reid or Hargreaves during the first phase of Patterson’s remodel. Since then, crews have been busy preparing Hargreaves basement with offices and conference rooms and bringing the former elementary school, which was shutdown last March for economic reasons, back to life.
Building Maintenance Technician Matt Jones said that the refurbishing of Reid began in August as they started bringing plumbing, heating and electrical systems back online. In late October, they installed a new heating system and began hauling in cubicle partitions in November.
The upkeep of the school is still a work in progress, as the miniature urinals in one of the boys’ bathrooms flooded the halls last week. “Anytime you move 108 people to a new space there are adjustments—little hurdles you have jump one at a time,” Jones said. Currently, all bathrooms are closed while the sewer lines are being replaced.
The group in charge of the move included the Dean of the College of Arts and Letters Dr. Lynn Briggs, and an army of administrative assistants.
“A lot of the burden of this move has not fallen on the faculty. It’s the administrative assistants,” said Public History Program Coordinator (and Reid refugee) Larry Cebula.
The administrative assistants played liaison between work crews and the faculty by tracking the progress of the heating installation, coordinating with custodians, scheduling times for computer technicians to connect Reid to Eastern’s server, overseeing movers as they hauled a cavalcade of boxes containing faculty books, papers and lesson plans during the winter break. As of Jan. 8, there was still a 5-foot stack of moving boxes in the school’s entry hall labeled “Stimson.”
Still, some professors do have ideas for how to make “Camp Reid” better. “There is a basketball court down the hallway just piled up full of stuff. If we can be the only department [history] with our own basketball court—which we would gladly share with English because we would whoop them—that’d be a lot of fun. It’d be a nice consolation prize,” Cebula said.