from Andrew J. Szeri, Vice Provost for Graduate Students and Dean of the Graduate Division

In connection with the recently announced re-purposing of 440 Stephens Hall, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Claude Steele and I have, for several weeks, heard and reviewed expressions of concern from students and others who have enjoyed the use of the room as a Graduate Student Lounge. I write now with an update.

A representative of the EVCP and I have met on May 9 and again on May 14 with several students who presented the concerns of Lounge users, along with the Graduate Assembly President and President-elect. We heard again the request that the repurposing of 440 Stephens be delayed in order to search for a suitable replacement space, as well as to gain a necessary feature not currently offered: accessibility to those with mobility limitations.

EVCP Steele and I together decided that it is possible to delay the closure of 440 Stephens for approximately six months, to afford time to work with affected students, and with the Graduate Assembly, to search for such a space. We have already secured the assistance of an expert in the campus Space and Capital Resources group, who will be key in providing input and developing options for review. We’ll continue meeting over the summer and into the fall to examine what alternatives have been proposed and possible timelines for implementation.

Meanwhile, 440 Stephens will be available for use as a quiet study space as before. The appointments of the student workers who staff the Lounge have already been extended.

We appreciate the goodwill shown by students in working together with us to address the sometimes conflicting interests that are an inevitable part of university life.