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New occupants add convenience and proximity

Office of Disability AccomodationSage Hall has received three new occupants and is well on its way to fulfilling its mission to become a one-stop student resource for academic programs and services.

The Office of Disability Accommodation and The Learning Center moved from the University Union, and the START (Student Academic Readiness Team) Office relocated from Stovall Hall.

The move makes the end of the first phase to move into Sage Hall, which formerly housed the College of Business before it moved into the new Business Leadership Building. To celebrate, an open house will take place all day Feb. 7 at Sage Hall.

The first phase included the move of nearly a dozen departments and the opening of the Academic Testing Center. The second phase will include a second testing center on the first floor, an additional “learning commons” on the second floor and the installation of furniture in the larger “Learning Commons” on the first floor.

The space has been spruced up with bright painting and carpeting, but the unity of offices makes the move most relevant for the new occupants. The Division of Undergraduate Studies now has all of its departments - ODA, Core Academy, The Learning Center, START office, Office for Exploring Majors and Title III - under one roof.

“It’s nice we are all together in the same building,” said Abbie Huzarevich, administrative coordinator for the division. “It actually brings us closer,” she said.

The Office of Disability Accommodation, or ODA, is now on the first floor, after having been on the third floor of the University Union. Visitors who use wheelchairs no longer have to use the union's small elevator to get to the office. The new space includes handicapped accessible doors and more testing rooms.

“We love it,” said Ron Venable, director of ODA. “We’ve nearly doubled the amount of space we have, allowing more room for activities including accommodated testing, student training and space for staff members who were never able to have their own offices in the union.”

The Learning Center now boasts two rooms for private tutoring; a computer lab with eight computers; a study that can fit up to 20 people for workshops; shelving for books; and space for six computers for online tutoring.

“There’s a lot of great advantages to this location,” said Allyson Gardner, coordinator for learning success programs for The Learning Center.

Kimberly Osada, director for the START Office, also appreciates the new location because she can now take a student to a particular department.

“This is much better, location wise,” she said. “It’s much easier for collaboration.”

The space for the ODA and The Learning Center in the University Union will be occupied by the Dean of Students and other offices in the Division of Student Affairs while the new union proposal is under consideration by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The board, which cited cost factors when it turned down construction plans in October, will decide in January whether to reapprove the project.

The vacant space in the union will also give student organizations more room and allow the Graduate Student Council to move there.

The START Office’s space in Stovall Hall will be used for other offices in the Union displaced by the renovation.

Sage Hall already is home to:

Celia Williamson, vice provost for Educational Innovation, said she was glad to see the building come together in support of UNT’s first of the four bold goals – the best undergraduate experience in Texas.

“We have classrooms and places for students to work together on projects and support each other's learning,” she said. “We have staff whose passion is connecting with students and helping them connect with the university and the world beyond. We have programs that inspire academic excellence. We have staff who can help students meet and overcome challenges. Each new group that moves in to the building brings another element in creating a community that supports our students and challenges them to create a better future for themselves and others.” 

Open House celebration

The events for the Open House celebration will include:

  • “ribbon tying” (rather than ribbon cutting) ceremony to represent how the building ties together the various programs and services for undergraduate success
  • student panel, introduced by President V. Lane Rawlins, talking about their "Best Undergraduate Experience”
  • unveiling of new art that came from designated capital project funds
  • Native American blessing of the building, using sage
  • passport students can use as a guide and receive a prize when it is completed
  • live music.

-         Jessica DeLeón, University Relations, Communications and Marketing

(Above, senior rehabilitation studies major Devon Axtman, left, talks to Office of Disability Accommodation testing coordinator John Johnston, right, at the new offices for the ODA in Sage Hall. Photo by Jonathan Reynolds/URCM).

Posted on: Tue 08 January 2013

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