The New Faculty on the Block
Goodbye, Epsom. After 15 years with a near monopoly on teacher training in the area, the Faculty of Education and Social Work is coming back to the city in a building opened by the Prime Minister. It only took them 10 of those years to actually do it. With the start of 2024, we will welcome Education students on campus, and with exam season in November, we will be bothered by their moving of all the equipment through the area.
But don’t get too excited about that shiny new building. The administrators of the University have proposed that students split their time between it,, The Elam School Building B, the Commerce Building, as well as Alten Road and Old Choral Hall—once it reopens. It seems a designated new space was too much to ask for or perhaps, they are worried about the asbestos which they had to clear before the building opened..
Be as that may, the new building provides space for archaeology wet labs, new theatre spaces, as well as specialist painting areas. The dean of the Arts School, Professor Robert Greenberg, says that it’s wonderful that the University has “made a commitment to our disciplines.” UoA also trumpets a new kind of flexible lecture theatre, and the real flexibility will be in the necks of the students who spend the whole day looking out the window to the domain behind the lecturer.
The University website says B201 used to be, “a dark rabbit warren that was the butt of many jokes.” To which I say, it is not the time to let comedy die. Come next year, it will be time for all of us to explore the new space and form new material. If that doesn’t entice you, the new direct connection between Wynyard Street and Symonds Street will be through the middle of the building. So stare at the twisting, statement staircase and know that this spending is why people are being laid off.
Along with the students, both the local marae, Tūtahi Tonu, and library, the Sylvia Ashton-Warner, will be pushed into the space that can be found for them. In the library’s case, it joins the long list of specialist facilities merged into the General Library. In the case of the wharenui, it will be re-established with its wharekai as a designated Māori space.
A side effect of this move is that the University has committed to maintaining its Early Childhood Education places steady, even though two of the centres that provide them are on that campus. This entails, according to the university, the possibility of an expansion of the current City Campus Kohanga Reo on Symonds Street.
To those more artistically inclined, an art trail has opened up through the old campus in Epsom. A map is available to guide visitors through 100 years of the campus’ history, as well as numerous pieces by graduates of the school.