With mixture of emotions, depts will head to Central

When it comes time to leave the cozy confines of the Languages Building, it will be a bittersweet day for the Romance studies department.

"Most human beings are pretty tied to the space where they've been living," said Professor Margaret Greer, chair of the department. "This is an old building with large offices, but there aren't enough of them."

Romance studies is one of the 11 departments and facilities expected to move to Central Campus under the $240-million Phase I of renovations to the space, slated for completion in Fall 2008.

Chairs of several of those departments said the move is a boon for their faculties, many of which-like Romance studies-feel cramped or are spread out over several buildings on different campuses.

But some of the excitement is tempered by unease about what to expect in the overhaul, the details of which are still uncertain.

"We've been campaigning for many years for more space," Greer said. She added, however, that the danger is in the potential for isolation-a present concern among departments on East Campus.

She said being close to the other Language, Literature and Culture departments may be beneficial, but she also hopes to be near facilities such as the John Hope Franklin Center and the Department of Art, Art History and Visual Studies to "have a real intellectual core."

Associate Professor Leo Ching is chair of the department of Asian and African Languages and Literature, one of the four LLC departments moving.

The departmental offices are currently located in two separate converted houses, one on Campus Drive and the other on Alexander Street. Classes in the department are taught in spaces ranging from the West Duke Building to Trent Drive Hall to the Sanford Institute of Public Policy.

"Historically we've been so marginalized, not just departmentally but geographically-now we'll be in a central location," Ching said. "For selfish reasons, this is good."

The AALL faculty is anticipating the move to Central as a chance to further collaboration within the department and with other LLC units, he added.

The two buildings AALL now uses will revert to the University, Ching said.

Like AALL, the Department of Art, Art History and Visual Studies is spread over several facilities. Students attend classes in the East Duke Building and the Smith Warehouse and use darkrooms in the Center for Documentary Studies.

After its move, the department is likely to continue using the Smith Warehouse in addition to acquiring a new facility on Central, said Department Chair Patricia Leighten, a professor of art history.

The new building will likely be on the north side of the campus near Erwin Road.

Though excited about the move, Leighten said she and other faculty members expressed some qualms about the location. She said they had hoped to be further south, in close proximity to the Nasher Museum of Art.

"The best art history programs are often attached or within great museums, and now that we have a great museum, we'd love to be able to take advantage of that," she said. "We're willing to move to Central, but at the very least-in Phase II if we can't do it in Phase I-we'd like to be closer to the Nasher."

Acting Co-Director of the Dance Program M'Liss Dorrance, an associate professor of the practice, said her department is eager for potential collaborative opportunities.

She also hopes, however, to keep the department's current spaces in three different buildings on East Campus.

The theater studies department is not so lucky. After initially being included in plans for Phase I, Chair and Professor John Clum said his department is not moving.

"These things change by the day, but since there are theater studies facilities on West and ones on East which are slated for renovation, we won't be moving," he said.

Clum had previously been optimistic about the prospect of uniting faculty members, who are currently scattered over a variety of buildings on both campuses.

He said he is disappointed with the administration's decision, but says now at least the department will not become any more dispersed.


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