Psych dept. could occupy McConnell
Plans could include temporary English department relocation
Published: Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
As construction on the Peter T. Paul building continues, the future of McConnell Hall, the current home of the Whittemore School of Business and Economics, is being questioned. With the space being opened up in McConnell, a number of different scenarios could play out.
According to Doug Bencks, university architect and director of campus planning, one of the ideas that seems to have taken on some serious consideration is the repurposing of the building for liberal arts. In an email, Bencks said that this would include a permanent move by the psychology department to the building, and possibly bring one or two other departments along with it.
Part of this plan, according to Bencks’ email, includes moving the English department and the philosophy department over to McConnell temporarily in order to renovate Hamilton Smith Hall. This part of the project is completely dependent on the state, and whether or not it is willing to provide funding for the renovation for Ham-Smith.
The university will not be expecting any funding for any renovations until July 2013, but Bencks made it clear that there is no guarantee that UNH will receive any money from its capital funding request.
Other factors that will need to be taken into consideration, according to Bencks, are the spaces that will be vacated by a potential move of the psychology department from Conant, Nesmith and other locations around campus.
For the two departments that will be most affected by the inevitable vacancy of McConnell Hall, the English and psychology programs, reactions are a little mixed.
To professor Robert Mair, chair of the psychology department, a move to McConnell would be a blessing. Mair said that a move to a central location would be extremely beneficial to the entire department.
Currently the psychology program is centralized in Conant Hall, which is where most of the department’s research is often conducted. However, a lot of the offices for the psychology department are also located in Nesmith Hall and scattered throughout other buildings here on campus.
This is a chance for obtaining a more centralized location for the entire department, and having most, if not all, of the department’s staff located in one building. This is the most enticing part of this proposed plan.
As for the English department, chair Andrew Merton stated that he likes the current space the English program occupies in Hamilton Smith Hall. He added that as long as a switch to McConnell is a temporary solution so that the building can be renovated, he is all for it.
“As long as it is temporary, it is fine,” Merton said. “I do not really care where they put us while they renovate [Hamilton Smith].”