Room to thrive

Renovations to AB Anderson Hall have positively impacted both faculty and students.

On the fourth floor of AB Anderson Hall, faculty and staff in the communication department gathered in a freshly remodeled classroom for an end-of-semester potluck. It’s a familiar space, but one they’ve only recently returned to.

A student draws at an art easel in the drawing studio in AB Anderson Hall at UMD.
Improved ventilation in the drawing studio allow students to safely use fixatives in the classroom.

“I feel very energized to be back in this space,” said Aaron Boyson, associate professor and head of the communication department.

Boyson and his colleagues have been eager to return since renovations to AB Anderson Hall began in December of 2021. With most of the work now complete, departments in the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS) were able to move back into their offices and classrooms last semester, a much anticipated moment.

The renovation project, Boyson said, is a “phatic success,” meaning it’s created more room for social relationships to thrive, evident by a packed study space where Communication student Grace Bauman sat with a group of fellow students.

Aaron Boyson, associate professor and head of the communication department, raises his coffee cup in a toast to his department in a classroom in AB Anderson Hall.
Aaron Boyson, associate professor and head of the communication department, toasts to a successful academic semester.

“It’s really fostering a community feeling that I haven’t experienced elsewhere on campus,” Bauman said.

New lighting, furniture, and refreshed study spaces and classrooms create a welcoming atmosphere in the building, while improvements to the heating, cooling, and ventilation systems support the overall atmosphere, as well as the safety and wellbeing of students, faculty and staff.

While phase one is complete, the second phase of the renovation is underway, and includes improvements to the art and design studio spaces on the first floor. That work is scheduled to be completed in June of 2024, something Associate Professor and Head of the Art & Design Department Jennifer Webb is excitedly awaiting.

"The advocacy that allowed this project to go forward," Webb said, "reminds us that the arts are really at the heart of some of the things that we do on campus."