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Students walk to class at Bentley Hall Sept. 19, 2023, in Athens, Ohio.

Trustees approve $1.9 million revitalization project in Morton and Bentley Halls

Ohio University’s Board of Trustees approved a $1.9 million project to revitalize learning spaces within Morton and Bentley Halls during its meeting on Jan. 18.

“This particular project is really about a refresh of individual classrooms,” Johnathon Cozad, interim associate vice president of design and construction said. “That refresh comes in the form of and almost always involves technology. As you can imagine, technology phases out quickly, and in order for us to maintain an effective way to deliver our curriculum, we want to keep up with technology.” 

Cozad said OU is committed to improving the quality of learning spaces and maintaining the high quality of learning spaces within the university for students.

“We have a goal of doing some work in the classroom spaces in these buildings this summer, but we know we won’t be able to accomplish the entirety of the project in the summer of 2024,” Cozad said.   

Cozad said there is a possibility of the project being phased, or worked on in sections of time, until its ultimate completion in 2025. 

A common complaint from students with classes in these halls has been the heating and cooling systems. Kossiwa Gakpara, a second-year student studying English on the pre-law track, had four classes in Bentley and Morton Halls during her first year at OU.  

“Something that needs to be upgraded in the buildings is the temperature,” Gakpara said. “It just needs to be renovated; it seems too dark in there.”   

Cozad said that the university is aware of the heating and cooling system issues that exist within buildings and is looking to find solutions to them, but that it is not what the focus of the project is.   

“One thing we’re very intentional about when working in these classroom spaces is to work around the academic calendar so that we’re not impacting classes,”  Cozad said. “And not just that we’re not impacting classes in a particular room, but anywhere within the building,” 

The project began in the summer of 2023 with renovations being made to some classrooms in Bentley Hall. Renovations will continue after the university acquires an architect who will help prioritize and plan which spaces need revitalization.  

“One thing that we likely will not be doing (with) these projects is building system-type work,” Cozad said. “Infrastructure that supports the entire building, things like the heating and cooling systems, and electric distribution systems and things like that — these (revitalization) projects are not intended to target those building systems.” 

Of the work that has been done in Bentley Hall, Cozad said that the renovations consisted mainly of flooring, furniture, lighting and technology upgrades. Future renovations within the revitalization project will consist mainly of those same kinds of upgrades and will be determined on a case-by-case basis. 

“We know that within this project we can't fix every issue in Bentley and Morton Halls and we can't renovate every classroom,” Cozad said. “So, our approach is to look at the spaces that have the greatest impact. We have a lot of data that tells us how each individual space is used and how frequently it's used. Then we use that to prioritize where we make these investments.”  

Daniel Pittman, senior director of communications, said the project underscores OU's commitment to enhance student experiences in a thoughtful fashion especially because Morton and Bentley are two of the most utilized academic halls in the Athens campus. 


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