Humanities to be renamed Karp Hall: Renovation completion planned for Winter 2015


By Gabriella Levine

Starting in early January, the Humanities building will undergo a year-long renovation and be renamed Karp Hall. The initial plan is for classes to resume in the building in time for winter term 2015.

Humanities was originally opened in 1965. The 21,000 square foot space houses the English and Modern Languages and Literature departments, along with nearly 40 faculty offices and several classrooms.

The Karp Family Foundation is providing most of the financial support for the project. Chief of Staff for the President’s Office Eddie Summers explained that the Karp Family has a “long standing relationship with Union College.”

Stephen R. Karp served on the Board of Trustees for eight years throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s. Two of his children, Doug ‘97 and Jana ‘99 are Union graduates. Doug currently serves on the Board of Trustees.

The total renovation will come to a budget of around $7 million.

“The Karp family is very supportive of the college and have been outstanding friends and alumni representatives of Union,” Summers noted.

The new space, which is expected to be completed.

November 2014, will include many new features for both students and faculty.

“The new building will have several features that will support students:  spaces for student study and collaboration, electronic equipment in all classrooms, a high-tech media lab and a performance classroom that will support dramatic readings and presentations,” said Acting President Therese McCarty.

Throughout the course of the project, faculty offices will be distributed throughout campus.

Professor and Department Head of English Judith Lewin explained that faculty will be placed in “swing spaces.” The modern language and English departments will be residing on the second floor of Silliman Hall, above the Registrar. This will be the location for mailboxes, departmental administrative assistans and the chairs of each department (Lewin and Head of Modern Languages and Literature Christine Henseler).

Faculty offices will be temporarily relocated to various spaces, including 36 Union Street, 2 and 4 Nott Terrace, Bailey, Old Chapel and Science & Engineering. Luckily, the English and modern language departments will be updating their webpages with professors’ new locations and adding a map to show where each location is on campus, so that students can easily find them.

McCarty is excited for the interdisciplinary benefits that will come as a result of the renovations. “I am very happy that students and faculty will have the facilities they need to study these fields,” she said. “Classrooms in the building are also used by many other departments, so this constitutes improvement in academic facilities that touch many people on campus.”

Lewin hopes that the renovation of the Humanities building helps to draw attention back towards the importance of the humanities in a liberal arts education.

“The Humanities has continually had to argue for its importance for critical thinking and expression so, given the focus of the administration and the Karp gift for building renovation, it is nice not to have to defend what we do for a change,” Lewin explained.  “Our 21st-century updated surroundings are intended, I think, to argue for us to students, potential students, parents and alumni that what we do is important to education at Union.”

The renovations of the future Karp Hall will be the most recent of many that have taken place in the last three years on campus. The Peter Irving Wold Center was completed in 2011, the social sciences building was completely renovated and renamed Lippman Hall 2012 and the construction of the Henle Dance Pavilion and Wicker Wellness Center were completed in the last six months. All were completed in an attempt to enhance the college’s historic landscape.



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