Construction to begin on $10M Kresge expansion

Becky Bowman

Construction on a $10 million addition to Kresge Hall will begin in a few weeks, in part to provide office space for 25 to 30 new tenured and tenure-track faculty members that Northwestern has been trying to hire since a tuition hike was announced three years ago, Weinberg administrators said.

Weinberg administrators already have hired 16 new professors from outside NU, spending more than $2 million in salary and laboratory fees.

The Kresge addition is needed to alleviate a space crunch on campus , said John Margolis, associate provost for faculty affairs. He added that the crunch has limited an initiative to hire more professors that started after a 16.9 percent tuition hike was announced during the 1997-98 academic year.

“A real constraint in increasing the Weinberg faculty is the scarcity of laboratory and office space, and this obstacle will be significantly lessened in the next several years as construction moves ahead,” Margolis said.

The Kresge addition will provide 120 faculty offices and the departments of philosophy, religion and Jewish studies will move in when it is completed in Winter Quarter 2003, Weinberg Asst. Dean Marvin Lofquist said. Other departments in Kresge might be shuffled in the process, but “nobody is moving out,” he said.

The addition is being funded in part by a $5 million gift from the Mary Jane McMillen Crowe Foundation and a $1 million gift from Barbara Franke, Weinberg ’54. The addition will be named in some fashion for Crowe, a Weinberg graduate and life trustee of NU, Weinberg Director of Development Matt TerMolen said.

Part of the idea behind the addition to Kresge is to bring the humanities departments of Weinberg into a more central location, TerMolen said.

“It’s a sense of people who are working together, for example classics and philosophy,” he said. “They’re just going to be down the hall from each other or a floor or two away. It’s to build synergy in the humanities.”

The new four-story addition will extend Kresge’s two southern office wings to make a U-shaped wing of offices with an internal courtyard, Lofquist said. Kresge’s floors, currently numbered ground through three, will be changed to correspond with level numbers one through four in the addition.

The courtyard will be accessible from a ground-floor entranceway on the south side that will line up with the walkway between Communications Residential College and International Studies Residential College, allowing the “ceremonial” entrance to Kresge to remain visible from Sheridan Road, he said.

The addition also will house a coffeeshop as well as the extra office space, Lofquist said.

The extra office space will be needed, said former acting philosophy department Chairman Kenneth Seeskin.

“We are extremely cramped in our present space,” Seeskin said of the department’s office at 1818 Sheridan Road. The move to a new, integrated building, however, might not have all positive results, he said.

“There’s a good thing that you bring faculty in contact with one other, but this is sort of a two-edged sword,” Seeskin said. “There’s always something to be said for having your own building.”

Several departments already have hired new faculty, Weinberg Assoc. Dean Michael Dacey said, although he declined to say which departments. He and other administrators currently are drafting a letter to the Weinberg faculty indicating the faculty that have been hired and discussing future hires.

The administration makes regular evaluations to determine which departments should hire new faculty, Margolis said.

The decision to seek tenure faculty members was made in order to ensure that hired faculty are committed to both the teaching and research missions of NU, Margolis said.

Non-tenured faculty are hired on a regular basis as well, Weinberg Assoc. Dean Daniel Linzer said.

At the time of the tuition hike, NU administration made a commitment to use the increased funds from tuition to increase the quality of undergraduate education, he said.