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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Dec. 7, 2007

Snedecor empties for renovation

by Anne Krapfl

Snedecor Hall

This interior space in Snedecor Hall serves a lot of purposes. A $9 million renovation will improve way-finding, add classroom and lab space, and give statistics faculty and graduate students better office space. Photo by Bob Elbert.

The 68-year-old Snedecor Hall will begin to empty this month in anticipation of a $9 million renovation. Snedecor has been home to the statistics department and the Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology (CSSM). Following the renovation, faculty, staff and graduate students in the statistics department (including the Statistical Laboratory) will return in April 2009. CSSM functions will remain at Building 2, Suite 2140, in the ISU Research Park, where it is relocating this month. The center has a five-year lease at the research park.

No good options

"It was a tough decision to make," said statistics department chair Ken Koehler about moving programs out of the building. Snedecor Hall isn't big enough to adequately house its current functions and people, much less allow for growth -- and the renovation isn't going to correct that dilemma. CSSM is staffed by about five faculty, 25 professional staff, three collaborators from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a dozen or so graduate students. There isn't another campus location for the group to relocate to now, either.

"We decided it was less critical for the professional staff to be on campus since they don't have teaching duties," Koehler said. CSSM's faculty members will have offices in both locations.

The CSSM move to the research park began Dec. 3. Employees will keep their phone numbers in the new location. Statistics department faculty, staff and graduate students will move to temporary space on the first four floors of Wilson residence hall (one of the "Towers") beginning Dec. 17. They also will keep their current phone numbers.

During their 18 months at Wilson, Koehler said statistics faculty also will share about a dozen temporary offices across campus.

"Department chairs have been really generous to share their space with us," Koehler said. He said it will enable faculty to have office hours on campus, and maintain their collaborative relationships with faculty on campus "without a lot of extra travel between Wilson and campus."

The department also will have a help room for undergraduate students and space for about six graduate students in the basement of Pearson Hall. The department's computer lab temporarily will be set up in 205 Carver.

New opportunities

"Remaining visible even though we're not physically on campus" is the challenge to the CSSM, said its faculty director Sarah Nusser. Center staff will visit clients on campus during the next 18 months and have an office in Snedecor when it reopens. Nusser said the move also prompted them to try some new things:

  • Focus on outreach functions, such as lectures and short courses, to the campus community. An example might be a workshop on designing Web-based surveys. "We do a lot of one-on-one consulting now; this is an opportunity to serve the campus in a different way," she said.
  • Collaborate more with other ISU centers at the research park, such as the Institute for Social and Behavioral Research, Nutrition and Wellness Research Center or Center for Transportation Research and Education.

Center staff conduct surveys for campus researchers, provide consulting services (for example, on data collection methods or analysis), and prepare research proposals with collaborators. A team from the center assists the U.S. Department of Agriculture with a continuous inventory of the country's natural resources.

"We view ourselves as an integral part of the university and the statistical environment here," Nusser said. "We have no intent to become a contract shop for outside groups."

Nusser and Koehler both expressed optimism that the center will be moved back to campus when space becomes available.

An all-new Snedecor

Snedecor was completed in 1939 as a federal Works Progress Administration project. As part of deferred maintenance efforts in the last 17 months, it has received a new roof and windows, and updated electrical service up to the building in anticipation of this project.

Renovation work will begin in March, following about six weeks of asbestos abatement and removal. The inside of the building will be gutted and rebuilt, including new heating, cooling and electrical systems and new plumbing. The northwest and south stairwells will remain; the northeast stairwell and door will be removed. The elevator will be moved and replaced. A second interior hallway will run the length of the south wing of the building, improving traffic and access.

"This is a small building, but people get lost in it," Koehler said.

The new floor plan puts faculty offices along the exterior of the building and graduate student offices between the two parallel hallways. The project adds computer lab and conference room space in the north wing of the building, as well as restrooms for both genders on each floor -- a luxury that doesn't exist now.

"It's going to be a wonderful facility, a great thing for promoting our program," Koehler said of the renovation. "I know we've lost graduate students due to our building. This will help us attract top graduate students, retain young faculty and hire new faculty."

Snedecor tenants deal regularly with backed-up plumbing, erratic heating and air conditioning, and, until last year, buckets on the third floor to catch whatever was dripping from the ceiling.

And, he noted, statistics faculty do a lot of collaboration with scientists and faculty across campus. "The renovation also will give us more space to meet and work with them. Right now, four or five people are trying to meet in a small faculty office," Koehler said.


Here's where you'll find them:

2625 North Loop Dr.
Suite 2140
Ames 50010

Statistics Department
G452A Wilson Hall
(continue to use Snedecor addresses; mail will be forwarded)

From Service to Snedecor

The original "Service Building" was completed in 1939 to house an assortment of -- you guessed it -- services, including mimeograph machines from Morrill, the Statistical Lab from Beardshear, WOI Radio from the Engineering Annex and the photo studio from Agricultural Hall. Most of the south wing was added in 1960-61. The building was renamed in 1969 for George Snedecor, a math professor who taught the first statistics courses at Iowa State in 1915 and helped establish the Statistical Laboratory in 1933.