Since it opened in 1960, CWU’s Grupe Conference Center has been used as a classroom, lecture hall, and as campus and community meeting space. Beginning fall quarter, the center—located between Black and Bouillon halls—will serve a new purpose, as the university’s faculty center. CWU President James L. Gaudino endorsed the concept.
“In my meetings with academic departments around campus, the need for collaborative faculty space was a consistent theme,” Gaudino points out.
The idea of establishing such a space, where faculty members could meet and interact, also came up during the last school year, when the university’s Faculty Senate conducted a general survey of its members.
“[There was] a recurrent sense that the faculty don’t regularly interact with people outside of their departments to informally discuss their ideas,” says Eric Cheney, this year’s Faculty Senate chair.
In response to this perception of isolation, last year’s chair and CWU’s new strategic planning director, Melody Madlem, and Cheney went looking for a place that would suit as a faculty center. The Grupe Center was determined to be the best place.
The new center will offer functions for faculty that currently do not exist, and serve as an alternative to faculty office space. The 1,799-square-foot center will give CWU faculty a place to meet and collaborate readily. By providing a space for regular interdepartmental interaction, it will allow them to get to know each other and each other’s disciplines, offering opportunities to share expertise and experience.
“It will heighten the faculty’s sense of a shared university vision, helping them deliver better curriculum to students,” Cheney notes. “More interaction among faculty across departments at a faculty center should begin to build a more cohesive university vision among the faculty.”
Prior to its opening, the center will undergo basic maintenance—new paint, carpeting, and furniture. When opened, faculty will have key access to the center 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Grupe Conference Center was named in honor of Mary A. Grupe, an early CWU researcher in experimental psychology, who served at the institution between 1897 and 1907, and from 1912 to 1929.