December 2, 2020

VIDEO: SOC professors settle into new offices

Webster University communication and business professors settled into new offices in February. The business school moved out of the School of Communications, which opened more space inside Sverdrup. Professors that moved are still adjusting to the new changes.

Video by Kristen Schubert
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Kristen DiFate

DiFate’s plans for students Assistant Professor Kristen DiFate worked in a small triangular office. She shared her space with two professors with barely enough room for students. DiFate could hear noises from the audio studio below her office and from people in the May Gallery hanging pictures on the wall. She moved her rocking chair into her office, but she has to take it home. It won’t fit in her office when her furniture arrives.

“I’m waiting for chairs for my students to come hang out with me in and I’ve got like a teapot, and I’ve got some tea, and some hot chocolate for people to come and have pep talks,” DiFate said.

DiFate sees people she didn’t see before. She said being closer to the rest the faculty is the best part of the move.

“My fingers are crossed for some good collaborations in the future,” DiFate said.

Julia Griffey

Griffey’s memorable office view Assistant Professor Julia Griffey worked in a small cubicle inside the Kirk House with walls that didn’t touch the ceiling. Now she can shut her door without hearing a loud printer across from her office. Griffey has more privacy too. “I can talk on the phone and not have everybody hear what I’m saying, so that’s really nice,” Griffey said.

Griffey’s been in her office for three weeks. She was one of the first professors to move because her office was the worst. The adjunct office was right next to Griffey’s old office. Griffey could hear the adjunct professors when they advised students. Griffey said she enjoys the sense of community in her new space. “We’re buying a toaster oven for our kitchen and, so, because there are 30 of us all in the same space, we all have to contribute a dollar to get a toaster oven,” Griffey said. Griffey saw the University Center parking lot outside her old office window. Now she can see what used to be her grandmother’s condo across the street from Big Bend. Griffey was close with her grandmother before she passed away.

The master plan Sverdrup is undergoing a renovation process. The firm in charge of creating Webster University’s master plan, Sasaki & Associates, recently unveiled the design to recreate the University. The University plans to transform the School of Communications in stages, but the first step was to get the faculty in one space. The new East Academic Building on Garden Avenue was finished over the summer. The business school created office space when it left Sverdrup Hall. Now the professors who officed in the Kirk House took over that space.
Sasaki & Associates discussed plans to add more parking around campus in its presentation. The firm would expand the parking garage on Garden Avenue to the east. More spaces would be added to the University Center parking lot once the Kirk House is demolished. The time table for the master plan is unknown. The company wants feedback from the University and Webster Groves community first.

“It all depends on the final decision of the University,” Michael Mindlin, an associate of Sasaki, said. “It’s their decision to make.”

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