Mark Grigsby’s strict attendance policy is not the only thing keeping students coming to his summer anatomy and physiology course. The fact that the class is one of the first to be offered in the newly remodeled and restored Cunningham Hall certainly hasn’t hurt.
“We’ve been in for two weeks and everyone, the students and the teachers, just feel better about being in these rooms,” Grigsby, natural sciences instructor at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, said. “There aren’t any problems that might interrupt class. It’s just a nice, clean, crisp building to teach in.”
The crispness to which Grigsby referred stems from a ten-month remodel of Cunningham Hall. Cunningham Hall was constructed in 1952 and had, in recent years, been used primarily for natural sciences classes and labs. The structure was not immune to the typical problems that a five-decade-old facility would encounter. The renovation provided a needed upgrade to every feature of the building, from electrical to its data acquisition components.
Cunningham Hall now boasts of ten new classrooms and laboratories. Madison Threet has enrolled in a microbiology course being offered in one of the labs. Initially the sophomore from Grove had considered taking only a sociology course this summer. But when she learned that this course, a prerequisite for her program, was being offered in the new facility, she enrolled.
“I think now that this building is finished and we see how nice it is, students will feel even more pride about getting a degree at NEO,” she said.
Cunningham was opened to students and faculty for summer session, which began on June 7. Its rooms are now equipped with oak cabinetry and tables topped with acid-resistant counter tops. The tables have gas and water hook-ups and were constructed for demonstration purposes, said Steve Grimes, head of the NEO Physical Plant.
The Cunningham project comprises only a portion of the new facilities that science and students in health-related fields will put to use. At the same time that ground broke on Cunningham, construction crews began building an adjacent Science Lab Building. When it is completed in July, this 10,750-square-foot facility will include laboratories for chemistry, medical lab technician, physical therapy assistant and microbiology classes.
The total cost for the Cunningham renovation and the construction of the Science Lab Building is $6.7 million.
Grigsby said he expects that the new complex will have a direct, positive correlation with recruitment.
“I think in this instance pride is a key word,” he said. “We are going to be proud to show a prospective student what we have, the kind of environment they will be learning in. It is going to be a lot easier to take a student into a classroom and say ‘This is what we have to offer you.’”