Students and faculty ramble to Gamble
With Merrifield renovations underway, College of Arts & Sciences departments make temporary home in Gamble Hall
Merrifield Hall is the newest building on campus to be getting a face-lift. Built in 1939, the building at the center of campus has housed several departments from the College of Arts & Sciences; most UND undergraduates have taken several classes there.
Now, the departments that for decades have called Merrifield home have moved across Centennial Drive to Gamble, the former home of the Nistler College of Business & Public Administration.
The departments of English, Theatre Arts, Philosophy & Religious Studies and Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures migrated to Gamble shortly before the semester began. Now, during the first few weeks of spring semester classes, they’re starting to adapt to their new surroundings.
Although they’ve been housed there for only a few days, students and faculty seem to be getting comfortable in Gamble already. In fact, many of them hope that the building, while only a temporary location for them, will offer some benefits previously unavailable in Merrifield.
“I know some faculty really liked the older style of the building,” said Rebecca Rozelle-Stone, philosophy professor and head of the UND Honors program. “But in my own office, for instance, there were windows that wouldn’t shut completely, so it would often get cold.”
“I’m ready for this kind of upgrade. In terms of those basics, Gamble is more comfortable.”
Stone also noted that Gamble’s classrooms will be well-suited for her Philosophy courses. “The room where I have my class has three rows of seats that are in a semi-circle. People will be able to see each other, and that is really nice for discussions.”
Kylie McDonald, an assistant professor in the Theatre Arts Department, says that she appreciates the closeness that the new office space is bringing her department.
“I do like it here. In our space in Merrifield, we were kind of separated down the hall from each other. We had our cluster of offices, but our dean and chair were located on the other side of the hall,” McDonald said. “Here it’s nice because we’re all in a line. It’s easier to stay in touch.”
When asked how she is liking Gamble’s classrooms after teaching her first class for the semester, McDonald said “it was really nice, actually. We are up on the third floor and even though there are students everywhere, it felt secluded. I felt like I was able to teach my class without distractions or interruptions.”
UND Facilities did its best to make the move painless for faculty, moving boxes between the buildings before the semester began. Departments packed up books, furniture, and supplies, and Facilities’ crews then moved these for them.
“It was pretty smooth,” said Rozelle-Stone. “Facilities did a good job of getting our stuff over here.”
While the renovations intend to retain the building’s history and architecture, updates will modernize Merrifield’s classrooms and offices to match the technological demands of present- day teaching. This is one of the most exciting features of the renovation, according to Professor of Spanish Jane Berne. “There were very limited electrical outlets in Merrifield,” she noted. “This was probably decades ago, but it made working with technology difficult. Improvements like that are going to be a real plus.”
Berne said of students, “They seem to be adjusting pretty well. There has been a lot of activity with students going back and forth. It’s livelier.”
James Vineyard, a sophomore at UND, said the relocation is a welcome change, “It does look better. Merrifield was super cramped. I was looking around before my class, and there’s a lot more space for people in Gamble’s classrooms.”
Merrifield’s renovation is planned to be finished in 18 months, just in time for the summer 2024 semester. In the meantime, students and faculty seem to be settling into Gamble just fine.
More information about plans for the renovations can be found on the project’s website.