After split with Liberal Arts, SEMSS moves to Building 9

The renovated office space for fashion department faculty in Building 8. Photo by Sarah Bogaards

When students step into the main entrance of Building 9, they may wonder if they are in the right place.
Where vending machines and a glass display case stood last semester, students will now find renovated office spaces for the brand new sciences division.
Plans were laid to make Building 9 the headquarters for science, engineering, math and social sciences (SEMSS) classes after DMACC administration decided in to split the Liberal Arts and Sciences program into two separate branches in fall 2018.
In order to make the transition, several program moved locations. Most notably, all the adjunct professors and six full-time faculty from the sociology and psychology departments, which had been stationed in Building 2 for several decades, left to join the physics and environmental science departments in Building 9.
Chair of Psychology and Sociology Katherine Dowdell said that moving after being in Building 2 for so long gave her “a fresh perspective.” Contrarily, sociology professor Laurie Linhart said it was hard for her to leave.
“Moving was difficult because I was fond of my colleagues in Building 2. Not seeing them on a daily basis has been hard,” Linhart said in an email interview.
Moving psychology and sociology staff to Building 9 also meant consolidating the fashion, business, and IT programs into Building 8.
According to Associate Dean of SEMSS, Kari Hensen, growth in online course enrollments made consolidation easy for the business and IT programs.
The early childhood education and dental programs remain in Building 9, but are overseen by Dean of Health and Public Services Arthur Brown.
Psychology professor Marilyn Jerome, whose office is now in Building 9, teaches developmental psychology and said she is excited to share the building with the early childhood education program.
“I’m really looking forward to building a relationship with [the staff],” she said.
Hensen, who was Associate Dean with Liberal Arts Dean Jim Stick before the split, said the transition began in August after administration asked them to separate Liberal Arts and Sciences “into two academic units.” Linhart said faculty in Building 2 were informed about the move after Thanksgiving break.
According to Hensen, a principle reason for the split was growth in enrollments. She said that prior to separating, Liberal Arts and Sciences supervised more than 1,400 sections of credit classes, more than any other discipline.
Now, with the ability to focus on a smaller portion of classes, Hensen said the next step for the newly formed SEMSS division is to renovate and possibly expand Building 4, home to the math and science departments, because students have previously struggled to find a spot in some courses. She added there is a particular need for more lab space due to the high demand for chemistry and biology classes.
“Growth is the goal of this division,” Hensen said.
Jerome said splitting Liberal Arts and Sciences made “perfect sense” because it helps provide a clear distinction between the two academic fields.
“[Sociology and psychology] use the scientific method, and they don’t in English,” she said in an example.
In addition to making improvements for students, Hensen said the division is meant to give faculty more support as well. When Liberal Arts and Sciences was one faction, she said it was more difficult for her and Stick to give faculty all the support they needed. By splitting, Hensen said “it will allow more individual administrative support.”
She said updating classrooms and technology can be essential in continually attracting new students and quality faculty to DMACC.
Renovations to Building 9 include offices for the dean and social science faculty as well as new carpet and lighting for seven classrooms.
Additionally, Hensen said the classrooms exchanged their projectors and pull-down screens for TV monitors as a way to stay updated and cater to more multimedia use in the classroom. A workroom and breakroom were also established for faculty use.
According to Jerome, Hensen and social science staff have been in their new spaces since the start of the spring semester. The addition of this staff and more than 40 sections of psychology and sociology classes have meant busier hallways for Building 9; Hensen said it’s “fun to see the extra student traffic.”
Hensen said the renovation is still “a work in progress,” with some minor projects to finish, but added she looks forward to debuting the updates to the public soon.

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