Just in time for the 2011–2012 academic year, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s first academic center in more than 40 years opened its doors.

Sage Hall, which refers to wisdom, boasts four stories of classrooms, study spaces and features built for and around students of the millennium, will house administration, faculty and program offices for the College of Business, along with several College of Letters and Science departments and programs.

“Sage Hall is a great step into the future at UW Oshkosh,” said Chad Cotti ‘00, associate professor of economics who now has an office and will do much of his teaching at Sage Hall.

Construction of the $48-million academic center began in 2009. The new building, which provides more than 13,000 section seats per day, helps UW Oshkosh address an academic space shortage, in part due to record-breaking enrollment increases. More than 13,600 students attended the University in the last academic year.

“With our continual increase in student enrollment, the building has eased up a bit on room scheduling constraints,” said Lisa Danielson, UW Oshkosh registrar.

Beyond 27 new classrooms, the largest lecture halls on campus integrates an enhanced audio system to support the hearing impaired and dozens of unique breakout study spaces, Sage Hall also offers students features like individual laptop plug-ins at their lecture seats, high-tech equipment and natural lighting in each classroom. “I think it’s a huge step forward for the University,” said Nathan Stepanek, of Oshkosh, a junior radio-TV-film major.

Faculty members agree. “I think this shows a reinvestment in campus,” said Denise Robson, head of the Faculty Senate at UW Oshkosh.

Aesthetics, efficiencies given equal weight
Warm colored paint on the walls, an oversized entrance off High Avenue, designated areas for student organizations and even an Einstein Bros. Bagels are among the amenities that will make those who use the building comfortable.

“I’m a real believer in the importance of aesthetics. The way it looks matters,” said Franca Barricelli, history professor and associate dean of the College of Letters and Science. “It’s more important than just being pretty. It changes the way we interact. It will change the way people feel here.”

Barricelli, who was part of the initial planning team for Sage Hall, is excited to finally see the building ready for use. Because the needs of those who will use Sage Hall now and into the future are so diverse, Barricelli said placement of classrooms, lab and study spaces were well thought out to encourage the collaboration among colleges and departments.

“The demands of a modern education aren’t well met by the existing classrooms we have,” said Cotti, who previously taught many of his classes in Clow Social Science Center, the Nursing Education building and Swart Hall. “The University has done a fantastic job of taking classrooms from the 1960s and making them useful, but older classrooms weren’t designed with multiple visual options in mind.”

Cotti said he firmly believes the way a classroom is set up affects student learning. He’s excited to teach in a setting where he can use multiple areas of his classroom to show a projection of something online while also using a white board. Plus, the size and shape of the new classrooms will allow him to see nonverbal communication cues his students are putting out easier.

“The ability to look across your classroom into somebody’s eyes and see what they are thinking matters,” Cotti said.

Navigation also is less challenging in Sage Hall than it was in the old College of Business setting.

“Students (had) a hard time finding my office, so that’ll be easier,” said Cotti, who had a small office on the top floor of Clow with many others from the College of Business. “It will be easier for students to find all of us in the College of Business. We’ll have a genuine sense of, ‘my office is right down the hall.’”

John Koker, dean of the College of Letters and Science at UW Oshkosh, agrees Sage Hall will become a great new home to the departments housed there.

“The professional colleges will now have a single identity instead of being everywhere,” Koker said. “Plus, once we make this move, the domino effect of other renovations will begin and bring other spaces into the 21st century.”

Sage Hall goes green
Features like a live green roof, sustainable landscaping and rain gardens helped Sage Hall qualify for a gold LEED rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. To read more, visit UW Oshkosh Reinvented.

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