Kirk Building closed until further notice

The Kirk Building is closed for the 2020-2021 academic year and the offices previously housed in the building have been moved to different areas on campus.

With the Kirk Building now third on the list of priority renovations, the Center for Academic Excellence, the Writing Center and the Student Access and Disability Services have been moved to Pickler Memorial Library. The Publications Office and University Photographer have been moved to Barnett Hall, and The Language Company moved to Grimm Hall.

Dave Rector, vice president for administration, finance and planning, said the Kirk Building is one of the oldest buildings on campus that is still in use, with Baldwin Hall being the oldest. Built in 1923, Kirk has steam heating, old electrical systems and no ventilation through the middle hall.

“So we knew it was one mishap away from having to shut it down,” Rector said. “So we worked up a plan to move people out of there and then had it actually all laid out even before the COVID-19 thing hit.”

Rector said the Truman State University administration had been discussing closing the Kirk Building since last summer, and ultimately decided it would be best to close the building before an emergency required it to do so. For the fall semester, the building is being used for storage. 

In the future, Rector said he hopes to complete a $15 million renovation of the building. With current state funding, he said, that project likely won’t come to fruition for multiple years.

Andrea Maag, assistant director of the Center for Academic Excellence, said the move to the library was a welcome one. Maag said the CAE is now better situated on campus because it is in a more accessible location. 

“Students are in the library,” Maag said. “While the Kirk Building was also centrally located on campus, students had to go there specifically to meet with their adviser, or they had to search it out. Where we are in the library, if a student is in the library already, it would be very easy for them to just stop in — well, in a regular year — to visit with their adviser.”

She said the new location also allows all of the academic advisors to be near each other, unlike before, when the offices were split between the central hall in the Kirk Building. 

Despite the move, Maag said the advising process would still be the same in a normal year, but the COVID-19 pandemic has required some changes. The CAE is encouraging students to use Zoom advising sessions more than ever, but it is still open for face-to-face meetings. Maag said Zoom will become a permanent option for advising in the future, in addition to the live, face-to-face sessions.

As a Truman student in the 1980s, Maag said the Kirk Building used to be a more active building.

“I personally have kind of an attachment to that building because of its history to the University, and I just think the building is wonderful,” Maag said. “It needs some renovations, for sure, and working in that building the last few years — it does need some work.”

Rector said the building is historic and the University has no intention of tearing it down.