Pray-Harrold, one of the main buildings on Eastern Michigan University’s campus, is set to have more than $50 million in renovations begin later this year. The building, a general education hub, will undergo its first major renovation since it opened in 1969.
Plans for the renovation include reworking the second and third floors, turning them into space for student interaction, study and computer facilities. The upper floors will be reconfigured classrooms; consultation areas for students and instructors; and offices. There are also plans for an addition that will include large class spaces, common areas and a covered walkway that connects the main campus building to the more remotely located College of Business.
While all of these changes are being made for the good of the campus and learning experience of Eastern’s 22,000 students, the changes may alter more than Pray-Harrold itself.
“I think it’s going to be very difficult to move all the departments,” Maggie Waid, a graduate assistant, said. “It’s going to be hard for them to find a place to put all these people and all these departments across campus.”
But finding ways to relocate the classes and offices currently held within Pray-Harrold isn’t the only problem that could be facing this project.
“There’s not going to be this unity any more,” senior and history major Dan Peterson said. “Right now, everyone goes to Pray-Harrold. We won’t be as unified as a campus anymore.”
Not only could it change the campus spirit, but the college experience as well.
“I think when you get used to where a building is as the home of a certain department, it kind of takes away from that major,” Waid said. “It takes away from the experience of kind of having a main home for where students do their studies.”
While it may cause a certain disconnect between a student and his or her studies, a gap can grow between a student and professor as well.
“I think it will make people less motivated,” Peterson said. “If you have classes in some random building and offices in another random building, students may not pay as much attention.”
The college experience can suffer in more ways than just that. Since Eastern is already a largely commuter campus, what happens when many on campus housing locations lose the appeal of being just steps away from the main class building?
“I think it will be a bit hard to convince people to stay in Best, Buell and Downing,” Peterson said. “I don’t know if people will want to live that close and pay more if they would have to walk just as far and live off campus. Why wouldn’t they just live off campus?”