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Jeffords renovations improve science experiences

Photo courtesy of Jane Foley.
Labs in Jeffords Centers were renovated over the summer and students are enjoying the upgrades.

Castleton University’s Jeffords Center finally got some attention that it deserved after receiving $1 million for renovations, which started in the spring of 2019.

The renovations consisted of new workspaces for students, the expansion of a lab, new ventilation, and even gas line additions within the chemistry, exercise science, and psychology departments.

The work started during the end of the spring semester and went throughout the summer and were seen as a way to accommodate the growing department. They were paid for through a $500,000 STEM grant from the state with a $500,000 school match.

Students say they are enjoying the improvements.

Castleton senior Aleesha Dronia finds herself spending a lot of time in Jeffords as an ecological studies major.

“The personal benefit I see from the renovations is a better mindset going in. It’s more aesthetic and a comfortable space to be in while learning. To me that goes a long way,” she said.

Weslee Thompson, a health science and psychology double major, has been liking the increased space the renovations have provided students.

Thompson also mentioned how he could see more students gravitate toward science programs because of the updates. He said the improvements offer students already in the program the opportunity to continue to grow and get more work done. 

“I think it was very well needed. People don’t understand how much lab work goes on in there and it was really hard to work around other students while you’re doing your work. So the nicer facilities just kind of give us more space to get more science done,” he said. 

Biology professor Preston Garcia also sees the updates as a great opportunity to expand the department to get some new students interested in the field. Specifically, Garcia is happy to see the addition of gas lines in lab 121 so his microbiology courses are now able to be taught in that lab.

“A hood was put in there for Dr. Palmer’s labs that she teaches, so now we can get multiple biology courses taught down here in a bigger space,” he said.

Students have seen the renovations as a solid start to having the whole building being up to date.

“I think there will always be updates needing to be done, but for the time being none that are an immediate issue. Updating the labs is what I would’ve said, but they beat me to it,” she said.

Senior ecological studies major Dara Davison is also content with the changes and sees them as a possible lure to prospective students.

“I think it would definitely attract incoming freshmen and people who are looking at the school that say, ‘hey I’m kind of interested in science.’ But like if it was nicer than the other schools that they saw, it might attract them more to come to Castleton,” she said.

Garcia said he’s as thankful for the improvements as students are and he praised the efforts of the workers who got it done.

“They did an amazing job in the short period of time they had; especially the three labs that were down to the bare walls,” Garcia said.