Relocated MCS&E plans moving forward

New building expected to open January 2021.

BW President Bob Helmer recently led a forum regarding plans moving forward for the new Math, Computer Science and Engineering building.

New plans were drafted for a relocated MCS&E following the most recent rejection from the Berea Planning Commission. BW has been submitting proposals for MCS&E to the Planning Commission since August 2018, and the most recent proposal was at the December 20 meeting.

The relocated MCS&E would be on North Quad, which Helmer said will “provide a frame to North Quad.” This new site would require the removal of Ward Hall, which is currently a science building with a map room and fossils. Helmer said the school plans to vacate Ward Hall at the end of this spring semester.

In preparation for submitting to the Planning Commission, BW cut down trees on North Campus during Spring Break. The endangered status of Indiana bats in 18 identified trees in that location made it illegal to cut them down between April 1 and September 30. Helmer said the school wanted to remove the trees in time to submit to the Planning Commission this spring, while also avoiding the noise of cutting down trees during fall classes.

According to Helmer, features of the $25 million building include a solar-ready roof, nine classrooms and risers that seat about 300 people. He said MCS&E’s shape is designed to “facilitate interaction” between different disciplines within the building. In addition, there will be an added parking lot north of the CIG which will add up to 70 new parking spaces. Helmer projected the construction to take “18 months at best” with a move-in date of December 2020 to open in January 2021.

BW added an engineering major in 2017. While MCS&E building development is in the works, the future of the engineering program could also be expanding.
“There is currently a search in progress for another full-time faculty member in engineering,” said Jodi Tims, department chair and professor of computer science. “Going forward, additional faculty will be added as the number of students in the program grows and the course schedule requires it.”

Helmer said that BW decided against filing an appeal to the courts for the building. Although he said that the practice is common for developers, Helmer also stated “we’re not a developer.” He sees the university as a community member and the decision to forego the court system was influenced by BW’s status in the community. Helmer said BW plans to have a sketch site plan review with the planning commission on March 29 before formally submitting again later this spring.