It might have been decades ago since the Environmental Science Department has last seen significant changes to the classroom settings, laboratories, and field storage areas. Here on the Haskell Indian Nations University (HIINU) campus, the four-year degree Environmental Science program is getting a make-over. Sequoyah Hall has encountered some renovations over the decades, whether that has been single classrooms or single laboratories. However, the field storage area on campus is located at Pontiac Hall, room 116, and this portion of the building has not seen a change in over a decade. This room will also be undergoing renovations for the Environmental Science Department.
Renovation plans began in 2012 where the administration requested the Environmental Science Department to start having these conversations. The discussions included the science faculty, administration, facilities and faculty from other campuses to collaborate on the initial written plans for the renovation which stated researched materials needed for the renovation, the appropriate supplies, and fixture specifications, and future meetings with engineers to finalize the drawing board of the renovation plans itself in detail. This written document was then formatted into a Statement of Work (SOW) to assist in the communication process of contractors and engineers. This planning process was ongoing until 2014 finally approved to be on the ground working until the renovation overall was canceled in 2015 uprooting the project.
The renovation plans were recently brought to the surface once again in 2019 to continue with the originally proposed project. These plans include improvements to the room itself; the laboratories will have updated sinks, student workstations, frame hoods, expanding safety features like chemical showers and eyewash stations. The overall new additions will include AV equipment, screens flooring ceiling covers, storage, cabinetry, new wall paint, window treatments, gas-electric and water availability. Pontiac Hall will be implementing a dirty lab for room 116. The estimated time to accomplish these renovation plans is about 8 months where the Title III grant will be utilized as funding.
The outcomes through these prospective changes are going to benefit the Environmental Science program students and faculty for the department. Dr. Chapin, a professor in the Environmental Science department, expressed excitement for the renovations to benefit the HINU community. Dr. Chapin says, “This renovation will especially enrich the research and lab instructional environment of the department, as it will enable more diversity of lab activities for both class-based research and independent research projects by both students and faculty.” She has also expressed that this could be an opportunity to expand our Environmental Science faculty since many past faculty members left due to retirement leaving vacant positions open. “New hires will see this as a program in which they can not only teach in an updated lab setting, but also more easily mentor student research or conduct their own research. That is something I hope to do more of once the renovations are complete,” says Dr. Chapin.
The list continues with positive outcomes with these renovations that create improved learning environments and required equipment for the Environmental Science program. “We can do so much more for Haskell with a fully functional set of labs to work in,” Dr. Chapin has expressed. Her thoughts on how this may improve points of interest like the “recruitment and retaining Native science students” or having the ability to host more events like workshops and training that focus on scientific and or environmental professionals and science students incorporating operating with Tribal nations/partners are part of the ongoing list of benefits to the renovations. HINU students will soon have the ability to utilize these transformations, expanding the opportunities of learning and knowledge base in the Environmental Science Department.