Starting my fourth fall term at PSU, I thought it appropriate to delve into the nature of the campus itself. Throughout history the design of civic buildings, like libraries, town halls, sporting venues and schools and universities, has captivated the minds of community planners and leaders. No one can deny the importance that layout and design has on the function of our institutions, so here I will attempt to judge the PSU campus according to my own terms – with regard to the placement of the departments within the buildings themselves.
For starters, I cannot help but wonder if the speech communications department is buried in the Neuberger basement in an attempt to somehow muzzle the chatterboxes. I also wonder why the Art department is stuck in the middle, on the second floor – shouldn’t art be on the top (fourth) floor, nearer to the gods?
The fourth floor is home to various departments, chief among them English, liberal arts and women’s studies. Shouldn’t these seemingly more grounded disciplines be buried deeper in the stack? My instincts also tell me that the mathematics department should be booted from the third floor. How can the foreign languages and black studies departments and English classrooms be in such close proximity to the math department, while the hard sciences reside on the other side of campus?
That’s just me again, folks, wanting to think my chosen art (writing) is muse-driven, rather than a man-made set of formula and rule.
As for the Smith Center, it is supposedly student run – and from what I can see no real learning goes on there – except for so-called “real-world” experience (like fast food, student government and newspaper production).
Cramer Hall, aside from being the ugliest building on campus – built in the fashion of a 1970s state prison – is among the most confounding. Here are the offices of the president as well as the administration’s baby and the media darling – University Studies (UNST). What a bunch of tireless scholars working away down there!
Hand-in-hand with UNST and also in Cramer is the sociology department, which I mention because, despite the reports, I’m not sure if anybody there remains among the living. Also stuck in Cramer are the poly-sci, history and geology folks. I assume it’s the history and poly-sci majors who are always smoking with furrowed brows between Cramer and Smith.
Economics is also in Cramer, and I don’t understand why it is not in the School of Business’ spiffy new digs on Sixth Avenue. I suppose they want to keep the young market theorists from being tainted too early by the SOB’s blue-suit Republicans-in training. (Ever wonder why “business” has two “s”‘s in it?)
The Graduate School of Education certainly deserves its own building, but I’m still none-too-impressed by the Urban Center, home to another of the administration’s favorites, the school of Urban Studies. All I can say is, if they want to keep on with these overly sterile, treeless brick squares, yuck! I’d rather go unplanned.
Lincoln Hall, our very own little Lincoln Center, holds within its wall a secret fortress, the sanctified offices of the dean of Fine and Performing Arts. Rumored to be a model of decorum to which the other departments should aspire, the dean’s office has a super-secret art gallery, which may or may not be open to the public.
The science buildings are the science buildings, a waste of space that should have been built vertically rather than horizontally.
The Stott Center is a very well-maintained facility, and its quality speaks to the power of the well-heeled athletic department.
The library is undergoing renovations, and the multidisciplinary approach to be featured the all-new, one-stop, research center remains to be tested. Note: The elevators in the library have the same correctional facility feel common to other elevators on campus.
Shattuck Hall, the hallowed oldest building on campus, is the domain of the architecture and Information Technologies departments. This might be seen as a good fit – the two somewhat abstract fields are trades elevated to the level of god-work: the raising of structures and the navigation and cordoning of cyberspace.
That is all there is to this campus, it is a small one. Just remember: my opinions are biased, my experience is limited and I only have your best interests at heart.