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Grand Opening: Securian Learning Commons & Math Lab

The outside of the new Securian Math and Learning Lab
January 24, 2017

Less lecture, more problem solving – UMD's grand opening celebration of its Securian Learning Commons and Math Lab on Feb. 2, 2017. 

The event begins with a ribbon cutting at 2 p.m. and will include tours of the commons and insight from the Bulldogs who learn in the new space. The Securian Learning Commons is on the second floor of the Kathryn A. Martin Library, 416 Library Drive.

Life in the Lab

While offering the most up-to-date active learning technology, the Securian Learning Commons and Math Lab doubled capacity for developmental math courses when it opened in September, 2016.

“In the past, we couldn’t run it as an open lab. There simply wasn’t enough room and students would stand in line to get in,” says Carmen Latterell, founding professor of the lab. “Now we’re running the program as we originally intended and students are getting as much help as they need.”  

Math Learning Lab Coordinator Laura Zimmermann says there are two unique components– the work in the lab is self-paced and instructors are there to offer immediate support. “We’re better accommodating students who are at various levels of preparation. The software guides adaptive learning that allows students to work on a specific topic until they understand it. They progress to the next topic fully prepared.”

The Securian Learning Commons and Math Lab is open nine hours a day and accommodates 1,200 students each year. It’s the only unit within the University of Minnesota system that’s teaching math this way.

Securian Gift

Inspired by the belief that math is not a spectator sport, planning for the space started in 2010. A $750,000 gift from Securian Financial Group in 2013 funded the project and construction began last year. “We identified a need for this type of learning space and Securian stepped up and made it a reality,” explains Bruce Peckham, professor and department head of Mathematics and Statistics.

The Securian gift was bestowed in honor of Securian’s emeritus Chief Executive Officer Robert Senkler, who graduated from UMD in 1974. “Bob started his professional journey as a math major at UMD, which helped shape his remarkable career at Securian,” says Chancellor Lendley Black. “We’re able to continue his legacy of leadership through this innovative space.”

Lori Koutsky, manager of community relations and the foundation at Securian, says the donation promotes a prepared and educated future workforce. “We invest in critical nonprofit organizations that are making a difference and are creating economic vitality in our community. UMD plays an important role in developing leaders for tomorrow.”

Library Restacked

The Kathryn A. Martin Library proactively repurposed collection and staff work spaces into the 3,380 square foot Securian Learning Commons and Math Lab. “We reconfigured the library in order to create this hub for teaching and learning,” says library director Matt Rosendahl.