Recently Sonoma State University officials cut the ribbon on a remodel of one of the campus’ major lecture halls.
Gone are the multi-million dollar lawsuit alleging asbestos-lined walls and dingy corridors of Stevenson Hall.
Excitement for the renovated three story building is palpable; so said the dean of the School of Social Sciences, Troi Carleton.
"Obviously all of our hopes and dreams right now are that it has this kind of energy all the time," Carleton said at the vibrant opening ceremony. "And I was talking to somebody a couple of minutes ago that said we can totally see Stevenson becoming sort of the heart of the campus."
The extensive renovations include floor to ceiling windows, ample sky lights, and most prominently an enclosed atrium where an outdoor courtyard with trees and a small lawn once stood.
University Provost Karen Moranski addressed the technical upgrades.
"There are seven state of the art classrooms that we call high flex classrooms, and they have cameras that will follow the instructor so that students who have to take the class online can still see, the instructor can still participate in the class," Moranski said.
Claudia Luke, Director for the university’s Center for Environmental Inquiry, housed in Stevenson Hall, said the building’s new sustainable footprint and use of natural lighting are cause for celebration.
"For me, one of the most important things is in the area of sustainability that we're Gold LEED certified," Luke said. "That's fantastic. And then the other thing I think is so important is bringing the outdoors in because there's been decades of research showing that if we're in an environment, a natural environment, we learn better."
As for the family of owls and magnolia tree which called the old courtyard home, Moranski said they haven’t gone far.
"They were moved when the construction began, and my understanding is that they're still in the neighborhood, so they kept also cuttings of the tree, the magnolia tree, and there are 12 cuttings," Moranski said. "And those have been replanted too."
The new Stevenson Hall opens to students in the spring.