Last spring, the elevator in Winther Hall at UW-Whitewater broke down and was offline for more than two weeks.
Some of the building’s corridors are so narrow it can be difficult for two students to pass.
Most classrooms don’t have windows.
The teaching methods labs, where UW-W faculty are instructing the teachers of tomorrow, are less modern than the rooms those students hope to work in.
“It is difficult to teach students how to use technology if the teacher is not familiar with the technology themselves,” Vice Chancellor of Administrative Affairs Grace Crickette said in an email.
Those are some of the reasons the university and the UW System believe Winther Hall, which was built in 1969, needs to see some upgrades.
Included in Gov. Tony Evers’ first biennial budget is $1 million to begin planning renovations and an addition to Winther Hall.
After planning, the price tag for the project is $41.06 million. The governor recommended—as the UW System requested—that the project be deferred into the 2021-23 budget.
The project would add $32,029 each year to the operating budget to cover costs such as staffing, supplies, expenses and energy bills, according to the budget proposal.
The addition to the building that houses the College of Education & Professional Studies would “provide accessible restrooms, improve vertical circulation and create new collaboration spaces on each floor level,” the proposal states.
Crickette said the restrooms alternate each floor by gender and are not compliant with the American with Disabilities Act—something the new project would address.
Someone with a disability at times needs to take the elevator—which Crickette said is original to the building and does not have parts available on the market—to another floor.
Winther Hall, which is about 77,000 square feet, has two lecture halls, 16 general access classrooms and six instructional labs, three of which are dedicated teaching methods labs.
Crickette said one of those is half the size it needs to be, and a conference room has to be used as another such lab “out of necessity.”
“Teachers today need to be able to be more flexible with instruction delivery than ever before,” Crickette said.
“The current teaching methods labs in Winther do not provide that flexibility.”
The hall needs five teaching methods labs for art, science, math, literacy and special education, she added.
To make labs as large as they need to be, Crickette said, some nearby classroom spaces will be used.
All the changes could mean a net loss of five or six classrooms, although that final figure will come during planning and design.
But Crickette said there are other general access classroom options in other parts of campus to cover those losses.