Schneider closed; students relocated

Whitney Ingersoll

Joel Marks planned to return to Schneider Hall as last semester came to an end. But a letter changed all that.

Western decided to close Schneider in May because of the building’s condition and to make way for the Kentucky Academy for Mathematics and Science.

“I was quite perturbed actually,” said Marks, a senior from Antioch, Tenn. “I lived there for a couple of years. It didn’t get any worse or any better, but they decided to close it.”

The decision was made after several inspections and the closing left 170 beds unfilled, said Brian Kuster, director of Housing and Residence Life.

Kuster said the building was in bad shape and had mold problems.

“It has not been renovated, and money from the state didn’t come through,” he said.

The students assigned to live in the 74-year-old dorm this semester were notified of the closing in May, Kuster said. They were given the option to move into another dorm with rooms available.

“All the students that wanted to live on campus stayed on campus,” Kuster said.

Marks wasn’t the only displaced student bothered by being relocated.

“When the university sent me the letter informing me of the closing of Schneider, I was extremely upset,” Louisville junior Ashley Kareken said. “I had really been looking forward to returning to Schneider in the fall and all the friends I had made there.”

Marks and Kareken now live in Southwest Hall.

Kareken said Southwest is in better condition than their old home.

“The rooms are larger and the furniture is newer,” she said.

Kareken said she will miss one part of Schneider – its sense of community.

“On a nice night, you could not walk past the dorm without seeing us up on the balcony,” she said. “We were always out in the lobby, sitting around talking or playing games.”

Marks said he doesn’t like his situation and feels that he has been deceived.

“It’s an inconvenience that they lied to us,” Marks said. “They made it seem like it was going to be a couple of years before they would use the hall.”

Schneider, which hasn’t been renovated since 1977, was in poor condition due to leaky pipes, torn carpets, broken elevators and mold, Kuster said.

Kuster said the decision to close came from a combination of all those issues and also the fact that it was too expensive to constantly repair and clean.

“We could’ve cleaned the mold,” Kuster said. “It wasn’t toxic mold. But it was a continuous issue.”

During the spring semester, two rooms were closed in Scheider and those students were forced to move mid-semester.

Kuster said that with one less dorm available, some new applicants, such as transferring and returning students, weren’t able to live on campus.

Support from the General Assembly is the determining factor on whether Schneider will reopen and be the location for the tentative Kentucky Academy.

As the Academy site, Schneider will house high school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing careers in math and science while they take two years of Western classes as well as finish high school, the Herald has previously reported. By the time they finish the program, the students will have earned 60 credit hours.

“We’re modeling after the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science,” said Julia Roberts, director of the Center for Gifted Studies. “It’s been there 13 years and seems to be working well where they are.”

There are similar academies in 17 other states and they are funded by their legislatures, she said.

Western is hoping for financial support from the legislature to help raise the $14 million needed to cover the $11 million for renovation and the annual $3 million to keep the Academy operating, Roberts said.

Western is seeking public and private support to fund the Academy.

Tom Hiles, vice president for Institutional Advance-ment, said that asking for private support without the legislature’s backing isn’t going to work since most private organizations won’t fund a project without assurance of their investments’ credibility.

“When I say that we stand ready to seek private support, I mean we have to have some commitment from the legislature,” Hiles said. “We’re not going to ask for support unless we know there’s going to be an Academy.”

If support from the legislature is given during the next session in January, renovation of Schneider will begin 2004. The estimated opening of the Academy is for fall 2005.

Reach Whitney Ingersoll at [email protected]