By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend
Have you noticed the new have-a-seat-and-stay-a-while environment at Irvin Kochel Center? The stiff, metal benches that once lined the halls are gone, replaced by attractive plush chairs and wooden end tables. On the lower floor, the computer kiosks have been revamped and carpeting put down to add warmth and help muffle echoing footsteps.
The changes are largely the result of suggestions made by students.
“Projects done by students in CAS 252: Business and Professional Communication helped drive many of the improvements to the civility and quality of the Kochel physical and social environment, including the digital signage screens, the up-scale coffee machine, the new furniture, and the printer near the new computer kiosk,” said Dr. Rod Troester, associate professor of communication.
According to Dr. Ken Miller, senior director of campus planning and student affairs, funds from the Student Facility Fee paid for the furniture and carpet, funds from Technology Fee paid for the computers and kiosks, and Housing and Food Services provided the coffee machine.
“It was really a team effort to improve a highly-trafficked area,” Miller said.
Students seem to have embraced the kinder, softer Kochel Center. When I walked through on a Thursday at 2 p.m., nearly every comfy seat in the house was taken.
Regarding the SFF
Projects funded by the Student Facility Fee are voted on by students. The Kochel project was placed on a campus-wide survey of students who indicated it as a priority for improvement. Then, the SFF committee, a nine-member group with six students as voting members, chose to fund the project. (Currently, Kyle Stephan, student government association president, and Miller co-chair the SFF committee.)
The SFF Committee also funded the construction of The Galley (which Housing and Food Services outfitted), lighting of the soccer/lacrosse field, Reed Auditorium and lounge renovations, and hydration stations across campus.
Future projects under consideration include, the Mary Behrend Monument and Memorial Garden, a recreation center, and a Frisbee golf course.
As for those metal benches that were removed for Kochel? They will likely be repurposed for outdoor use around campus.