UCLA officials spent about $1 million to install new rolling chairs and wooden floors, among other facilities, in Dodd Hall classrooms this summer.
The UCLA Office of Instructional Development, or OID, UCLA Facilities Management and the Registrar’s Office funded 11 first-floor classroom renovations that included new lighting fixtures and media equipment, such as projectors and speakers.
Kelly Schmader, assistant vice chancellor of Facilities Management, estimated Facilities Management contributed more than $700,000 for new seats, lighting, floors and other classroom components.
During the academic year, Facilities Management and the OID will make minor repairs to other building systems and media equipment. Facilities Management plans to spend $8 million on minor projects this year, Schmader said.
The OID is responsible for updating classroom media equipment, said Rob Rodgers, classroom service manager of the OID. He estimated OID spent several hundred-thousand dollars on equipment for the Dodd Hall renovation.
The new chairs, which include storage space for students’ backpacks, replaced old chairs that were nailed to the floor, Rodgers said. He added OID officials decided to add new chairs partly because some professors told him they thought movable chairs better facilitate group work.
Faculty members and students who use the newly renovated classrooms said they appreciate the changes.
Justin Haynes, a classics lecturer who teaches Latin 130: “Introduction to Postclassical Latin,” said he wants students to learn from each other through group learning, so the new chairs reduce the time the class spends setting up discussion circles.
“(The chairs) make it easy for the students to see each other,” Haynes said. “They help create a warmer atmosphere.”
Students said they also enjoy the new chairs because they look modern and are easier to move around.
Priscila Coronado, a first-year microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics student, said being able to move around in the chairs kept her energized during her chemistry discussion in Dodd Hall.
“These chairs kept me up (awake),” Coronado said. “I was excited and surprised when I went into the classroom.”
Bismarck Saenz, a first-year history student, said he thinks the chairs are very comfortable to sit in, but they might create hazards that prevent students from evacuating from classrooms in case of fires or earthquakes.
Schmader said in response the chairs will not pose a fire hazard because there are no more chairs in each classroom than before, and the renovated rooms meet all capacity restraints.
The Registrar’s Office closed Dodd classrooms over the summer while officials worked on the renovations, which Rodgers called the largest facilities project within the past decade.
Schmader added officials chose Dodd Hall for the project because the building has not been repaired since the early 1990s. Schmader added Facilities Management plans to renovate another 11 classrooms next summer.
Rodgers said the OID will use Dodd Hall to determine whether they will replace chairs in other buildings next summer.