KELSEY RETTKE, Staff Writer
Beloit College recently received a $250,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation for renovations to the World Affairs Center’s (WAC) north and south lounge classrooms. Also known as the Bunge and Baldwin classrooms, they are going to get enhancements to revamp the aesthetics within the rooms, as well as upgraded technology to “facilitate new teaching methods and to connect the classrooms with other spaces and students around the world,” according to the Terrarium.
Bunge and Baldwin are currently the biggest classrooms in the building, which is used primarily for modern languages, journalism and English courses. The professors’ offices are located on each floor. The historic building also houses the “Beloit Fiction Journal.”
Professor of English Shawn Gillen says that “WAC is one of the busiest buildings on campus. Hundreds of students take classes here every day. It is also the front door of the college. Everyday newcomers to Beloit wander into the building since it faces College Street, so I am delighted this important building’s core spaces will regain their grace and stature.” The historical essence of the building is an important part of the renovations.
WAC, originally built as a Carnegie library was officially dedicated on January 5, 1905. It was then rededicated on February 29, 1964 as the Center of World Affairs, now affectionately known—107 years later—as the World Affairs Center.
While WAC remains a symbolic piece of architecture representing the way Beloit College used to—and still aims to—run classroom exercises, the hope is that the renovations will maintain and re-establish that sense of history, as well as bring in a new, modern form of technology and teaching within the two classrooms (according to Dean and Provost Ann Davies, the Terrarium).
Associate Professor of English Chris Fink, whose office resides in the basement of the building said, “I think [the renovations] are a good thing. I didn’t care what they did; I was just adamant that they save those stain glass windows.” The windows are one of WAC’s identifying attributes—a testament of sorts to the history of the architecture.
The renovations are set to be started during the summer and are due to be completed by the Fall 2012 semester, just in time for students to once again be able to experience the full historical and intellectual experience that the WAC has to provide.