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Monday, September 20, 2021

Clark Kerr Hall undergoes improvements

After a year of extensive construction, Clark Kerr Hall is approaching an end to the renovations and improvements initiated in fall 2008.

Though Kerr Hall previously housed the majority of the mathematical science offices, the opening of the Mathematical Science Building in 2005 resulted in a large number of vacancies, providing additional space not previously available. As a result, Kerr Hall underwent extensive construction to accommodate the needs of future incoming departments, coming primarily from the Division of Social Sciences.

“After moving from Kerr Hall, we’ve gained 50 percent more space which allows our department to work together more collaboratively with larger meeting spaces,” said mathematics department chair Bruno Nachtergaele. “The various departments within the social sciences moving into the newly renovated Kerr Hall will experience the same advantages we had when moving into the larger mathematical sciences building.”

Currently located in Sproul Hall, the Social Sciences Administration office will be moving to the first floor of Kerr, providing a larger space for student advising services. Some additional departments making the transition are linguistics and communication, as well as political science. Officials expect the departments to move in by December of this year.

Among other modifications, the fundamental difference incoming departments will experience is a larger area to accommodate the heavier traffic of students.

“It’s an advantage for the linguistics department to make the move to Kerr Hall because we’ll have more space to accommodate our students and staff,” said linguistics department chair Patrick Farrell.

The building, constructed in 1969, was named in honor of Clark Kerr, the 12th president of the University of California. Previously existing as a branch of UC Berkeley, UC Davis became an independent general campus in 1959 due to Kerr’s influence and his desire to expand Davis’ curriculum. The recent renovations to Kerr Hall are the first since its construction 41 years ago, and are aimed at increasing the building’s overall functionality.

“The project renews or replaces a number of building components or systems in this 41-year-old building that are obsolete and/or have reached the end of their useful life,” said former University of California President Robert Dynes in a budget statement issued by the university. “The improvement will increase budget efficiency, extend functionality and provide infrastructure to better serve the building.”

The $6,911,000 project has worked to not only provide a larger space for the incoming departments of the Division of Social Sciences, but has also enhanced accessibility for handicapped needs and provided upgraded safety equipment. Because the construction phase has lasted over a year, departments housed within Kerr Hall have relocated to different floors within the building to accommodate the renovation.

“Every department [within Kerr Hall] was involved in some relocation, and while it was somewhat disruptive, it was a temporary price to pay for the advantages of the improvements,” said department director of the Davis Honors Challenge James Shackelford. “Over a period of a year, we were located on three different floors, which required flexibility, but was not as disruptive as it might have been because we were always in the same building. Students never had to adjust to a new location.”

The final renovations are predicted to be completed December 2009.

REBECCA SHRAGGE can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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