Despite the enrollment rate at the University continuing to grow, Enrollment Services says sufficient classroom space is not a concern.
There are 105 general assignment classroom spaces available for use at URI. These are classrooms that are not designated for a specific department’s use. In addition, space is available at 210 Flagg Road, Keaney Gymnasium, Hillside Hall, Eddy Hall and the University Club building.
Assistant Director of Enrollment Services Ken Sisson is in charge of general classroom placement.
“If they’re general assignment, anything can go in those classrooms; anything at all,” Sisson said. This is why students could have classes in buildings not designated for their major. A few examples of this are Political Science 210, which meets in the Beaupre Center for Chemical and Forensic Sciences, and Communications 211, which meets in Tyler Hall.
Professor Shanna Pearson, an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, has classes across campus in buildings such as the Beaupre Center for Chemical and Forensic Sciences, the Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences and Fogarty Hall, despite Washburn Hall being the home of Political Science.
“Do we have enough classrooms? I can tell you we do not, and the university knows that,” Pearson said.
“Fogarty at this point, nobody should be teaching in there. I mean, really, it’s just ridiculous,” said Pearson. “That was true for a while of Ranger Hall too, I know they’re working on Ranger Hall, but I used to teach there, and it was like no one should be teaching in this building. The
classrooms were just falling apart around us.”
Freshman Emma Hayes is one of many students who takes a class in a building that is unrelated to her major. Hayes’ communications class is in White Hall, home to URI’s College of Nursing.
“It feels strange walking into a building meant for nursing students when I know I have a Communications Studies class,” Hayes said.
Sisson said that he has received some complaints from both students and professors that have classes in buildings such as 210 Flagg Road, also called the Surge Building.
Sisson said that he knows having a following class in another area of campus after being in the Surge Building is possible. “There is enough time. I’ve done the walk. You can’t dawdle, but can make it happen,” he said.
Not all classes are held in the traditional buildings on the Kingston campus because of limited space. As a result, Enrollment Services utilizes available classrooms as well as space in unconventional areas.
“We’re always looking for ways to better utilize our space because it is limited. It’s adequate space, but it is limited,” Sisson said.
In addition, construction projects affect where space can be utilized for students. The College of Engineering is currently spread throughout many buildings while the new complex is being completed and Bliss Hall finishes renovations.
Jeffrey Ulricksen, the Manager of Space Allocation and Analysis, oversees the 110 departmentally owned classrooms across the entire University.
“We’re in a challenging time space-wise right now, because we’ve kind of shoved engineering into where we can find space for them while the new building is being built,” Ulricksen said. “Engineering is a pretty massive college to find a temporary home.”
As enrollment increases, the University is working to expand the amount of space on-campus that is available for use. “In the past 15 years, we’ve built over a million new square feet on this campus,” said Paul DePace, director of Capital Projects. “We have approximately 400,000 square feet under construction.”