University Announces Finished York Hall Renovation Project

UCSD announced the completion of a $6.5 million renovation and expansion of four undergraduate teaching laboratories in York Hall on Oct 30. Officials hope that the renovations will prompt increased enrollment in impacted chemistry and biology laboratory courses and consequently make it easier for students to graduate in four years.

Dean of the Division of Physical Sciences Mark Thiemens told the UCSD Guardian that two of the renovated labs will allow 240 additional undergraduates annually to enroll in chemistry courses. One of the labs will be used to teach CHEM 143A: Organic Chemistry Laboratory, and the other will be used to teach CHEM 7LM: Introductory Chemistry Laboratory, a new course catered to chemistry majors.

However, UCSD News Center reported in an Oct. 30 release that the two renovated chemistry labs will provide an additional 675 annual enrollments in general chemistry and organic chemistry courses.

Thiemens feels that the lab renovations are critical for students as they will allow more students lab opportunities as well as enhance their experiences in the labs.

“Prior to the renovation, several of these labs were not in working order,” Thiemens said. “These labs now have a modern layout and a feel that is both more conducive to learning, safer and overall a more attractive space for our students.”

Dean of the Division of Biological Sciences William McGinnis told the Guardian that the renovated biology labs will allow the biology department to teach a lower division biology lab course — the first in a long time — an addition that McGinnis thinks is very important.

“Since bio[logy] is a very experimental science, it is crucially important to teach the hands-on experimental side of the discipline as early as possible in an undergraduate’s education,” McGinnis said.

According to UCSD News Center, the course will be able to accommodate 1,440 students annually.

Additionally, the fourth lab will provide an additional 648 annual enrollments in the Division of Biological Sciences’ most impacted course — biochemical techniques.

McGinnis stated that because of the lab renovations, as well as a recent faculty increase, the various biology majors are no longer impacted.
Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Suresh Subramani explained to the Guardian how else the renovations would impact students and their ability to graduate on time.

“The ability to offer more laboratory sections allows us to accommodate students who might otherwise have been waitlisted, leading to improved graduation rates and a greater opportunity for a research experience,” Subramani said. “All this is driven by part of the major goal of our strategic plan to be studentcentric.”
In addition to the new enrollment spaces, the renovations also allowed UCSD to produce a new lab preparation room for the staff that supports CHEM 143A: two new equipment rooms for the new labs and adjustable lab benches for students with disabilities.

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