Volume 12, Number 9 January 7, 2005

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Chemistry Dept. upset over lack of Spinks Addition finishings

The Chemistry Department is upset that after more than a year of asking, it still doesn’t have wall art, display cabinets, student-area seating, or other finishing touches for the hallways of its three floors in the year-old Spinks Addition to Thorvaldson.

Prof. Emeritus John Weil and Chemistry Head Ron Steer blame inaction by Facilities Management Division (FMD) for the delay, and say that $25,000 is apparently available for the work.

“Essentially, nothing has been done – and it has just dragged on and on and on,” Steer said in late December.

FMD Associate Vice-President Paul Becker said on Jan. 4, the Spinks Addition was part of an incredibly complex Thorvaldson construction and renovation project, and he’s proud of the huge amount of extra work his staff did with the Chemistry Department over the past six years to accommodate its wishes – adding extra labs and doing many things to make the project succeed. Becker said Steer hadn’t approached him directly with the concern over the lack of finishings.

FMD Development Manager Cam Ewert said a lot of the ongoing difficulty with Chemistry and the Spinks Addition was because of “the unprecedented building wave over the past five years” on campus, and the fact that resources were stretched with so many major projects on the go at one time.

Part of the increasing concern expressed by Weil, Steer and Professor Emeritus Ron Sutherland is that this May the department will host the Chemical Society’s national meeting, with hundreds of visiting professors and dignitaries.

They don’t want to have to tour people through a building with stark walls, barren ‘feature corners’ obviously designed for plants or sculpture but which lie empty, and student gathering areas where there are no seats and the students all sit on the floor.

In November 2003, Weil and Prof. Marek Majewski toured the Spinks Addition and prepared a 17-point memo to FMD suggesting how signage, artwork, plants, seating, and display cabinets might be added, at reasonable cost. Weil suggested inexpensive, colorful artwork at that time, and now adds he would consider personally donating a major Inuit carving.

Weil said FMD formed a Spinks Art Committee, which met in March and July of 2004, but seemed to be going nowhere. He and Steer say their queries in recent months have produced no action.

There may be a glimmer of hope on the horizon in early 2005. Staff from FMD contacted Steer Jan. 5 and a meeting is planned to try to move things forward.

For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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