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21st-Century Old Main

Aside from tuck pointing in the 1990s and regular maintenance projects, Old Main has changed very little since its re-dedication in 1937; it remains the vibrant heart of campus, housing classrooms, offices, and community spaces. But there are two major issues that Knox must address for Old Main to survive as a vital campus building?accessibility and updated classrooms.

In 1995, Knox added a ramp and handicapped-accessible doors to Old Main, allowing easy access to Old Main for all individuals; however, these updates only offer access to the first floor of the building. Old Main?s worn stairwells currently provide the only access to the second and third floors of the building, which house all of Old Main?s classrooms and faculty offices, as well as the Common Room. The College has worked to remedy this issue by moving public lectures from the Common Room on the second floor to the Alumni Room on the first, or by making alternative classroom accommodations in other buildings; however, these are not permanent solutions.

Old Main needs an elevator. Knox has already worked with engineers to scout the best location for an elevator, making sure the addition would blend with the history and architecture of the building. All that is needed are the funds to implement the project. A gift of roughly $400,000 will install an elevator in Old Main.

Advances in teaching and learning over the last 50 years have far surpassed the resources currently available in Old Main. Featuring decades-old student desks and lacking modern technology, most of Old Main?s nine classrooms look much like they did in the 1950s and ?60s. Old Main does have wireless Internet connections, but it?s difficult to integrate this technology into courses without the necessary equipment. The Class of 1955 helped remedy this situation in 2005.

As part of the celebration of its 50th Reunion, the Class of 1955 raised enough money to receive a challenge grant from The Coleman Foundation. They chose to use the grant to renovate two classrooms in Old Main?311 and 315?adding new technology, including plasma screens; new blackboards and whiteboards; energy-efficient lighting; and desks and carpeting. (See photo of the renovated Old Main 311 above).

These renovated classrooms allow faculty to better integrate technology into their teaching and students have a more comfortable environment in which to learn. Knox must continue the momentum created by the Class of 1955 to bring the remaining seven Old Main classrooms into the 21st century. Fifty-thousand dollars will provide the monies to upgrade a single Old Main classroom, including the latest technology; and $20,000 will provide a classroom with enhanced educational technology.

Alumna Janet Greig Post spearheaded the campaign to save Old Main for today?s students and alumni. A similar determination among alumni can prepare Old Main for future generations. For more information, contact Beverly Holmes, vice president for advancement.