Batten Dean gives "State of the School" address, highlights strategic plans

Officials explore changes to Batten's space, location

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Batten School Dean Allan Stam discussed the physical limitations of Garrett Hall given the increasing numbers of Batten students and faculty.

Lauren Hornsby | Cavalier Daily

Batten School Dean Allan C. Stam presented an update Monday of the Batten School’s community, its student and faculty makeup as well as future strategic plans.

Stam’s “State of the School” address also featured a question and answer section in which Stam further discussed the physical expansion of Garrett Hall.

Stam compared Batten’s “humble beginnings” — during which the program consisted of only 25 students — to its current enrollment of over 300 students. He said one of Batten’s greatest advantages is its personalized, cooperative community.

“The key is the community,” Stam said. “[Our community] is small enough to where we can select each student individually. That is rare… we serve our own interests by putting the interests of others above our own.”

The school’s enrollment has increased over the last seven years, and the student-to-faculty ratio is leveling out, with about 175 graduate students and 150 undergraduate students, Stam said. There are still several searches currently underway for new faculty in the area of health, education, leadership simulations and data science.

“Student involvement [during the faculty searches] is welcome and needed,” Stam said. “Students tell far more compelling stories about Batten’s learning environment than faculty.”

Concluding the address, Stam discussed the physical limitations of Garrett Hall given the increasing numbers of Batten students and faculty.

“[Garrett Hall] is so lovely, and so beautiful yet so small,” he said.

Of the 150 responses collected from a survey on Batten’s physical spaces, Stam said the results showed most respondents felt there is not enough shared study space, the building lacks collaborative work space and faculty severely underutilize the faculty commons area.

When asked to elaborate on the potential physical expansion of the Batten School, Stam said the school has begun assessing expansion of its current space or moving to a new location and cited the Emmet-Ivy corridor near the Emmet-Ivy parking garage as a possible new location.

The survey consensuses parallel the conclusions of two studies of the physical space — one internal study conducted by the University Office of the Architect and one external study conducted by an outside consultant. Both studies noted Garrett Hall’s problematic size, Stam said.

Fourth-year Batten student Hayley Wellner echoed the space concerns.

“The school is at a point where they’ve leveled out with students and faculty,” Wellner said. “We’re currently at 300 students, and this is the only space we have — we’ve been told it’s too small, and the students very much agree that there’s not enough study space.”

Batten graduate student Brendan Wynn noted that relocation of the school may have a negative impact on the school’s image and its students.

“Dean Stam is right about our needs as Batten grows larger,” he said in an email statement. “But being in the heart of Grounds has been a key part of the Batten idea, before Batten even had a building. I'd be concerned about busy students — especially accelerated MPP students — going back and forth from a proposed location off Central Grounds down Emmet St. for the rest of their courses here on Grounds.”

The physical space concerns will be further addressed when the University completes a more general study of University spaces in June 2016, Stam said.

Hannah Mezzacappa contributed to the reporting of this article.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated one of the searches for new faculty is in the area of leadership and stimulation. The search is for faculty in the area of leadership simulations.

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