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Campus renovations extend to Hagestad Hall classroom

November 8, 2012

College campuses all around the nation go through renovation and building projects. For the most part, students on the campus know about the project, or at least have some idea of what will be going on.

UW-River Falls is in the planning stages of improving a once large classroom. Brandy’s Active Learning Center is not currently in use on the UWRF campus, however it will be very useful once it is in place again.

Dale Braun, the campus planner, leads a group of professors and professional staff to improve learning and teaching on the entire UWRF campus.

“What kind of keeps me going here in the profession is enhancing student learning outcomes. We toured the University of Minnesota campus and with what we have found from their learning center has given us the ideas that we need to build on and improve for our planning process,” said Braun.

Braun says that an active learning center is the wave of the future for teaching and learning.

“All the documentation shows that using active learning classrooms is the way to go,” said Braun.

The current location of Brandy’s is located in the basement of Hagestad Hall, where it has not been used in any of the past five academic years. When the University Center was built and Student Life and Dining Services were removed from Hagestad, the 108-seat classroom, named after Daniel Brandenstein, saw no more students.  Brandenstein is a UWRF alumnus and NASA astronaut.

The doors have been closed for some time, which keeps the location almost a secret to students. Anna Peissig, a fourth-year UWRF student, had never even heard of Brandy’s when asked about it.

A hidden door down the hall from Textbook Services, foot traffic is almost obsolete from the entire area.

“I thought that it was a vacant hallway. I have explored the campus many times, but never have I known about a classroom or center down there,” said Peissig.

The Brandy’s Active Learning Center is the first official learning center on the UWRF campus.

Michael Stifter, director of Facilities Management, noted that this is a direction that the campus wants to head to for all departments and buildings.

“We want to make it what we will think is a nice high-tech classroom, and this one more so devoted to the sciences,” said Stifter.

Moving forward, the UWRF campus would like to create a newer learning center for each building and possibly each department in the future.

“It will also serve more as a model for one that we can potentially see in Wyman Education Building, South Hall and other buildings going forth, including Agricultural Sciences, etc.,” added Stifter.

The Active Learning Center is one of two current projects on the UWRF campus which are both funded by the UW System, along with the North Hall Auditorium Renovation Project.
Braun leads a campus planning team, pitching ideas to a board of representatives for the system to get funding for special projects.

These two projects have received 20 percent of the $10 million that are available to all UW System schools each year.

River Falls received a large portion of the $10 million last year, which proves to the work that Braun does for the campus.

“We pitch ideas to the board, and with what we give them for a plan. We have gotten a large portion of the pot,” said Braun.

He added that the $10 million is dispersed based on the quality of a project for each campus.

Many of the UW schools would like to split the money evenly amongst all UW schools.
“With the quality of projects and in-depth proposals that we push through, we have been fortunate to get a large portion of the $10 million. That is credit to our team making great proposals, and we take pride in that,” said Braun.

He said he feels that the way they divide money based on each project is fair to UWRF because, “we present great ideas, and that UWRF will continue to do so.”

As planning continues on the project, this coming spring is set to start the renovation and construction. Expectations are for Brandy’s to re-open in January 2014. However, Stifter said that if all goes well, it could be ready for use  as early as next fall.