[IMAGE: Pacific Lutheran Scene] 
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Musty to Majestic:
Plans call for restoration
and innovation

B Y  L I N D A   E L L I O T T

Xavier Hall room 201, the library's main reading and reference room, circa 1960.

You can smell the essence of the room. A thick, musty and decidedly academic odor clings to the dark wooden beams criss-crossing the vaulted ceiling.

Close your eyes. Let the dusty fragrance invade your senses and you'll find yourself back in the 1960s when room 201 of Xavier Hall was at the height of its splendor.

Xavier housed PLU's library until the late 1960s, and room 201 was the main reference and reading room. Photographs show a polished wood floor, rows of shiny wooden tables, and wall-to-wall bookcases. Students spent countless hours there, heads buried in books and papers.

Today the floor is covered with a more practical tile and carpet combination (worn in spots from heavy foot traffic). Scattered around the room are '70s-style metal and plastic tables and chairs. Paneling covers the walls now, a replacement for the majestic bookcases. A massive wooden stage with an outdated chalkboard and lectern stands sentinel at the far end of the room.

Campus Master Plan

Restoring this room to its original glory while adding technological advancements is one major tenet of PLU's Framework Master Plan, which grew out of the PLU 2000 long-range plan. Recently approved by the PLU Board of Regents, the Technology Plan directs the maintenance, improvement and development of the physical environment at PLU. It describes a variety of projects to both improve selected spaces around the university and create new ones.

For instance, the plan calls for the redevelopment of Eastvold once the music department moves into its new home in the Mary Baker Russell Music Center sometime early next year. Most likely the building will house the Humanities, now scattered in several buildings around campus. In addition, the auditorium will be remodeled, and Tower Chapel will be made more accessible.

The plan also calls for immediate improvements to parking, lighting, pathways and landscaping around campus, as well as creating a future "front entrance" to PLU at the juncture of Harstad Hall and Garfield Street.

The plan outlines dozens of projects affecting all parts of campus - from classrooms and residence halls to green spaces and administrative offices - that the university hopes to get off the ground with your help in the coming years.

Technology Plan

Going back to Xavier 201, the need for basic new technology is apparent. There is one visible electrical outlet for the entire room. A more thorough search turns up two outlets (one socket each) in the floor of the stage. Not very practical for today's learning needs, especially in a lecture hall which seats up to 100 students.

Case in point. Crowded in front of the old-fashioned chalkboard is a monolith big-screen TV. Its thick power cable, secured to the stage with shiny duct tape, takes up one socket in the room's visible outlet. An overhead projector takes the other socket. If computers, projectors or other audiovisual learning aids needed to be added to the room, it would be impossible with the current state of technology.

"Not only do we want to restore this majestic lecture hall to its original state of glory, we must update its technology to accommodate the current academic needs of our students," said President Loren J. Anderson.

Addressing the basic technology needs of the campus is the focus of PLU's newly-approved Technology Plan, which also grew out of PLU 2000.

More than a laundry list of computer needs, the purpose of the Technology Plan is to provide faculty with tools to help them enhance the learning process and make it more active, to help students develop skills in and an understanding of the use of technology, and to provide staff and administrators with the means to enhance the management of university business processes.

According to the mission statement in the plan, "Technology is being added thoughtfully to strengthen the educational mission without harming the traditions and strength of the campus. It will be used in a way that does not diminish the importance of people in the teaching and learning process, drown out ethical questions with technical detail, or undermine our sense of community, and it should make room for higher level face-to-face instructional interaction."

"The Framework Master Plan and the Technology Plan are central to the university's future as we build and equip a schoolhouse that fully supports our curricular goals and instructional style," said Anderson.

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Source: Pacific Lutheran Scene, Fall 1997
Edited by: Linda Elliott, Summer Senior Editor (elliotlm@plu.edu)
Maintained by: Webmaster (webmaster@plu.edu).
Last Update: 12/09/97