SOU staff disrupted to allow Churchill renovation

The top brass at Southern Oregon University are strewn throughout campus this year, displaced by a yearlong effort to renovate Churchill Hall.

The faculty, staff and administrators once located in SOU's oldest building are working out of temporary offices in the Hannon Library, Computer Science Building, Britt Ballroom and a manufactured home near Central Hall.

Once the renovation is complete, Oregon Health & Science University will consolidate its faculty and staff onto the second floor, and President Mary Cullinan and other administrators will work out of the first floor.

SOU will accept bids on the project in the next few weeks, said Jim Beaver, director of Interactive Marketing and Media Relations.

"Everyone is pretty excited for its completion," Beaver said, "but then again, we're pretty happy with where we ended up."

Beaver and the rest of the SOU marketing department are comfortably perched on the third floor of the Hannon Library, with a sprawling view of Grizzly Peak through an entire wall of windows.

Others were not as lucky.

The desks of the payroll office and other staff have been moved into the nearly windowless Britt Ballroom, and the foreign language department's faculty, which once occupied Churchill's second floor, are in the manufactured home.

Cullinan and other administrators are working out of the second floor of the Computer Science Building.

The Churchill renovation is expected to cost about $6.4 million, and will make the building more energy-efficient and less susceptible to earthquake damage. Churchill was the original building at the Southern Oregon State Normal School, built in 1926.

The Oregon University System, through its deferred maintenance program, will contribute $1.3 million to cover seismic retrofitting. OHSU, which operates a nursing program at the SOU campus, contributed $500,000.

"It's just better for us to have all of our things into one spot," said Tim Kringen, a spokesperson for OHSU. "We're not changing the size of the program at all, just reorganizing and consolidating into one space."

Another $2.7 million for the project will come from state energy loans and $1.8 million from lottery bonds.

The faculty members in SOU's foreign language program will eventually move to the second floor of Central Hall, which is where most of the OHSU staff and faculty currently work from.

Craig Morris, vice president of finance and administration, said the contract for the renovation will require that the second floor of Churchill be completed by September 2012, so that OHSU and some of SOU's staff can move back in before the school year begins.

The rest of the project should be finished by the beginning of December 2012, he said.

Sam Wheeler is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at 541-499-1470 or email

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