Four of the largest first-year classes to take place on West Campus

University Registrar says the move will benefit science students and avoid scheduling conflicts

Duncan McArthur Hall
Image by: Maria Vlasova
Almost a million dollars of renovations are planned to take place at Duncan McArthur Hall over the next two years.

Four first-year science courses will move some of their lectures to West Campus this year. 

The classes — BIO 102, CHEM 112, PHYS 117 and MATH 121 — had held three lectures each in auditoriums on Main Campus in previous years. The lectures had been situated in Dunning Hall, the BioSciences Complex, Chernoff Hall and Stirling Hall.

The lectures will now be held in Duncan McArthur Hall on West Campus, which is about an eight minute bus ride or a 15 to 20 minute walk from Main Campus.

Planning for the move has been in the works for two years, according to John Metcalfe, University Registrar, and he said the moves will provide more coherent and coordinated timetables for science students.

“Last year it didn’t work out very well for science students. There were a lot of conflicts that were created by labs that were scattered,” Metcalfe said.

This year, Metcalfe says students won’t need to go back and forth between various buildings to take the courses they need for their program. 

Mandatory laboratory sessions for the classes will still take place on Main Campus, but changes to the schedule will reduce the conflicts in lectures and laboratories sections for different classes, Metcalfe said.

“It’s easier for the student picking courses to understand, and it will give them way more options in their timetable,” said Metcalfe.

The distance from Duncan McArthur Hall and Stauffer Library is roughly 1.7 km, but Metcalfe said that shouldn’t be a factor in picking classes.

“I really don’t think it will constrict, in any important way, the first-year student experience of the University and Union area,” he said. 

The lectures for these courses have been scheduled in the morning or afternoon blocks of the day, which leaves the middle of the day open for laboratory sessions.

Lectures in Duncan McArthur Hall will also accommodate more students. The lectures halls will have around 600-700 available seats, as opposed to main campus auditoriums, which hold 400-500 seats. 

With the planned increase in use of the West Campus auditorium, the University has committed to funding approximately $450,000 in renovations to Duncan McArthur Hall.

The funding was decided this spring, after the University realized that demand for space will increase in the fall, according to Peter Wolf, associate vice-provost (teaching and learning).

Renovations are currently underway. They will include the addition of two 20-foot HD Projectors and Screens, two 50-inch screens for lecturers to read off notes and an adjustable experiment table with a camera for broadcasting experiments.

A new Microsoft Surface tablet will also be made available for faculty to wirelessly control their lectures, according to Wolf. He said further renovations are likely to continue next year, bring the cost to a collective $900,000 over two years.

“We hope to continue the renovations next year, focusing on improved student seating, access to electricity and ensuring full accessibility to the stage,” Wolf told The Journal via email.

Professors Anne Topper, who teaches PHYS 117, and John Carran, who teaches CHEM 112, both said increased class sizes are more of a concern than the distance from Main Campus. 

“Growing class sizes mean we need to accommodate some of those larger class sections (just one section for CHEM 112) and our largest classroom happens to be on West Campus,” Carran told The Journal via email.

Last year the largest lecture for CHEM 112 had a 425-seat capacity; this year the largest of the three available lectures will have 650 seats.

Last year, PHYS 117 had a class capacity at approximately 220 students for three lectures. The lectures have been reduced to two sections this year. One will have 480 seats, while the other will have 240 seats.

— With files from Tarini Pahwa


first year, West Campus

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