UW residence hall renovations shift around UW departments

LARAMIE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) Task force members and the Board of Trustees for the University of Wyoming are almost ready to take action on their new plan to renovate it's residence halls; the plan has been revised and fine tuned for the past few years.

What may be great for the university could prove to be troublesome for some of it's departments, specifically those that are being displaced by buildings being demolished.

Wyoming Hall is home to many departments, such as Transit and Parking, Human Resources, and one of the oldest departments on campus: the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).

The new housing renovation plan includes demolishing the building, and sending Wyoming Hall departments to Hill Hall.

"There's been an understanding that we need to make some pretty significant changes to the residence hall offerings for students in order to remain competitive," said Chris Boswell, the Interim Vice President of Government and Community Affairs.

The new halls will house 300 to 500 students, in two or three new buildings. These buildings are currently planned to be built in the Wyoming Union parking lot (north of the Business building, east of the Union, and south of Wyoming Hall). They will be built to last at least 75 years, and will have amenities that many students look for when they are choosing where to go to school. The residence hall plans include dining facilities, retail space, and living/ learning areas.

The older, outdated halls such as Crane Hall and Hill Hall are no longer admirable for students. To top it off, they currently have unsafe levels of asbestos, which the university plans to take care of by remodeling the building. The university was granted $1 million for these renovations.

"It's always nice to improve on a building that's 50, 60, 70 years old," Boswell said.

Army ROTC has been using the building since last year for their learning activities and physical training space.

"The reason that the Crane-Hill Dining Facility might have been available is because it wasn't suitable for any other uses. And I don't think that's necessarily the best criterion for use. We want to provide good space, and sometimes that may mean sharing space."

The question still remains: What other options are available for Army ROTC to move to, if possible?

ROTC used Half Acre Gym in the early 1920's to 80's, before they were moved to Wyoming Hall, and still have a mark on the historic building.

Lt. Col. Thomas Haas, the Professor of Military Science for Army ROTC, recalls the historic emblems still seen today on the building. "The Army symbol is carved in stone above the south entrance on Half Acre Gym. And the ROTC Torch of Knowledge is carved in stone above the north entrance, because that building was originally built as an armory for military science."

But for now, ROTC and the other Wyoming Hall departments are scheduled to move into Hill Hall during the winter break, this upcoming December and January.

"They're working with us to see which options are available and they're going to put us where we operate the best."

The University of Wyoming plans to move forward with the plan as it stand, but awaits approval from the Board of Trustees and Wyoming legislators.