In late October, construction began in Violette Hall’s basement to replace the chiller unit, which creates cool air in the building. Issues arose when instructors found themselves interrupted while teaching classes by construction noises that made hearing difficult.
The construction is part of a larger project intended to replace two chillers on campus. The first was in the Student Union Building and was replaced near the end of the summer. Truman State University was faced with the option of continuing the project and replacing the Violette chiller right after the construction in the SUB was finished, or waiting until October, Dave Rector, vice president for administration, finance and planning, said.
“We were down to two weeks before the start of the semester, and if they ran into problems, we may not have had any air conditioning in Violette Hall when the students came back,” Rector said. “So the contractor offered to come back in late October for the same price.”
The total cost for the project of replacing the two chillers was around $850,000. This project, while important for maintaining a stable temperature in Violette, caused issues for instructors because of noise in the building.
The Academic Affairs office was tasked with contacting relevant parties to make them aware of the construction in case changes needed to be made to instructors’ plans. Some instructors expressed their frustration because they were not notified of impending construction and found out about it while teaching.
“The first day the construction affected me was in a Calculus III class in Violette Hall 1148, which is on the northwest side of the building,” Kevin Easley, professor of mathematics, said. “It sounded like they were running a jackhammer that day, and the noise was so loud that we had to leave the classroom because we could not hear each other. I brought them upstairs to a study area with a whiteboard, and my class sat on a circular sofa, and we continued class there for the day.”
Easley considers himself lucky because he teaches in Violette 1148 after other instructors. The instructors teaching in Violette 1148 prior to Easley had already reserved a new room for their classes to escape the noise, and the room was offered to Easley as well. Because of this he did not have to hear the construction noise again.
One of those instructors was Stephen Quinn, assistant professor of mathematics. Quinn requested a new room to teach in because he found it impossible to teach with the noise.
“The main issue has been the noises,” Quinn said. “There was banging, drilling and sawing. At times I would have to raise my voice to talk over these noises, and at other times it was too loud, and I could not raise my voice enough and had to pause and wait it out.”
The noises would not happen every day, Quinn said. After a while, the noises became enough of an issue that Quinn decided to have his class permanently moved to a different room in Violette where the noise would not be an issue.
The noises have been reported in Violette rooms in the 1100 wing, so by moving classes away from there during construction times, the noises have had less of an impact. Having not been made aware of the construction, there are some instructors that do not even fully know what is being done that has caused disruptions to their classes.
“I understand they are doing construction work to improve the campus, but I could not say what they are improving, other than something called a chiller,” Quinn said. “I understand they have to do work. I am a little frustrated they are doing it during the semester and disrupting my class. I don’t remember seeing anything letting me know this was going to happen.”
The construction is nearing an end, and should be finished in about a week or so, Rector said.