Students and teachers react to the Carnegie renovation plan

Pictured: Carnegie Hall. Photo courtesy of Sewanee’s Flickr.

By Ivana Porashka
Staff Writer

As previously covered by The Purple, Carnegie Hall will soon be home to a student advising center and classrooms for the highly debated business major. The philosophy department will be moved into what is now the Career and Leadership building, while the Art History department will be placed in what is now housing for the student-run Sewanee fire department, Wiggins Hall. Without any official announcement from the higher administration, the potential displacement of philosophy and art history departments has stirred up discussion among professors, students, and faculty.

Dean of the College and professor of Classical languages Terry Papillon estimated that the construction will start taking place around January of 2020, but that it is still subject to change. Vice-Chancellor John McCardell elaborated on the matter, and stated that “the entire building will remain operational through Fall semester 2019. Most of the offices and classrooms will be relocated to temporary spaces and ready for occupancy before the beginning of Spring semester 2020.”

McCardell added that “newly renovated offices, classrooms, and program spaces will provide a better teaching and learning environment and enhance opportunities for collaboration and engagement. The decision to renovate Carnegie has not been contentious, but rather [is] an important priority to provide better spaces for academic departments and programs and to renovate one of our most prominent historic buildings.”

Professor of philosophy Christopher Conn voiced his thoughts on the matter: “I guess it’s been six years, but it seems like we just moved here [Carnegie Hall]…and they moved us here because philosophy was central to the liberal arts mission of the school. The Career and Leadership building is going to be nice, but I’ll miss seeing other people from other departments. The move for art history is a bigger deal, much more complicated because they have the photography labs up there.”

On that note, Director of the Fine Arts House and art major Cecile Denton (C’21) remarked on both the good and the bad of this impending change, saying, “The art department professors will have proper studio and work spaces. The photo labs will be built as an extension to Wiggins, but there is uncertainty as to how the logistics of that building will play out…like getting the water, humidity and space control that wet labs need.”

However, the majority of students approached about this change had no idea it was happening at all. Kate Moffett (C’20) said, “I did not know there were plans to renovate Carnegie and I feel like decisions this big should be communicated more clearly to the student body.”

Professor of philosophy Mark Hopwood looked on the bright side of things, stating that “the current Career and Leadership building is an amazing space, and having the philosophy department in a house will give us a comfortable area for students to read, work, and carry on discussions from classes.”

“I think that one of the best things about the philosophy department is the sense of community between students and professors, and that’s something this change will really allow us to build on and develop,” Hopwood continued. “Obviously it’s never fun to move, but since Professor Conn is a lot stronger than me I’m assuming he’ll be happy to carry my books over there, so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.”

According to Papillon, “Change always brings anxiety. I have tried to keep faculty informed about changes, through updates at each faculty meeting, but I am sure that some would like to know more. By the end of each faculty meeting, they know as much as I do.”