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Campus envisions expanding classroom space

By Clifton B. Parker on October 21, 2005 in University

The upcoming Warren and Leta Giedt Hall will help ease the classroom crunch in the west-central side of campus, say university officials.

With groundbreaking next January and completion expected in spring 2007, the one-story Giedt Hall will provide 650 seats total in classrom space — the design calls for three lecture halls of 250, 175 and 150 seats, and two 40-seat classrooms. Scheduling priority for these classrooms will be given to engineering and geology.

In recent years it has been difficult for classroom construction to keep pace with rising enrollments. While some of the most rapid growth has slowed, the campus is expecting 100 to 300 new students a year for the foreseeable future.

Fred Wood, interim vice provost for Undergraduate Studies, said faculty are "extremely excited" about the Giedt Hall Building because it will help address the classroom shortages that are occurring on campus.

"Having additional classrooms will help meet the instructional needs of the campus and allow for more courses to be scheduled at optimal times," he said.

The $7.5 million building will be built on a parcel east of the Barn (formerly the Architects and Engineers Barn) and just north of Kemper Hall — a place where more mid-sized classrooms are needed. The site currently includes 18 single-story temporary facilities, which are now being taken down for the new building.

Rick Keller, assistant vice chancellor for capital resource management, said that UC Davis is hoping to address classroom needs with projects like Giedt Hall. In 2002-03, UC Davis' classroom usage was at 100 percent of the California Postsecondary Education Commission guidelines, which means that all available classroom seats are utilized an average of 35 hours per week. In Fall 2003, the usage of all classrooms exceeded the state standard by 3 percent.

As Keller noted, "The west-central area of the campus has grown rapidly in past years and as a result needs more classroom space. Once it is finished, Giedt Hall will help to address this issue in that area of campus."

Campus leaders point to Giedt Hall as a shining example of how faculty philanthropy makes a difference in the classroom.

"Financial gifts from faculty made this project possible," says John Meyer, vice chancellor for resource management and planning. "We have had a long-standing need for new classrooms. The generosity of the Giedts and Schaals gave us the opportunity to leverage campus funds to develop this new facility."

Gifts, campus funds

In 2003, the university received two donations for the new hall from UC Davis faculty — a $2.5 million gift from Warren Giedt and his wife, Leta, and a second gift of $400,000 from Rand Schaal and his father, Ted. The campus is also supplying funds to construct the 15,000-square-foot building.

Giedt is a professor emeritus in mechanical and aeronautical engineering. Internationally known for research in heat transfer, fluid mechanics and thermodynamics, Giedt has received numerous teaching awards and, in 1993, he and his wife established the College of Engineering's first endowed professorship with a deferred gift.

Schaal was a lecturer in geology and a UC Davis graduate. His classes on the solar system and lunar geology were popular and drew hundreds of students. He and his father, Ted Schaal, made a gift of $1.4 million to UC Davis in 1998, $1 million of which went to build the Schaal Aquatics Center.

Wood noted that one of the Giedt Hall lecture halls will have a prep room for geologic lab samples. That was one of the Schaals' wishes, he added.

Wood pointed out that faculty offered input on the building's design. "It truly is designed for instructional usage."

Plans call for Giedt Hall's three larger rooms to include tiered, fixed seating and a full complement of audiovisual equipment. Forty moveable chairs in each classroom will give instructors flexibility for seating arrangements.

Meyer said scheduling priority for these classrooms will be given to engineering and geology. "At other times, the rooms will be available for general assignment. And, of course, bringing any new classrooms online will add flexibility for all campus classroom scheduling."

Media contact(s)

Clifton B. Parker, Dateline, (530) 752-1932,