University Announces Renovation Plans for Johnson Hall, Parking, Wireless Networking

New students who move into Johnson Hall next fall will literally have a “cooler” experience in their first-year residence hall compared to the students who have lived there for the past 64 years.

Air conditioning along with several other renovations to Nebraska Wesleyan’s oldest residence hall will begin soon after commencement in May.

Johnson Hall renovations are among three large improvement projects that were recently approved. In addition to air conditioning, the Johnson Hall project includes remodeling of all interior spaces, expansion of restrooms, improved heating and energy efficiency, a new roof and new windows. Rooms and common spaces will be equipped with new furniture.

Johnson Hall will also be more accessible to those with disabilities. Clark Chandler, Vice President for Finance and Administration, said entrances, first floor restrooms, computer labs, laundry and living rooms will be reconfigured to provide full access for students with disabilities. An elevator will be installed to allow access to all four stories of the building.

While the renovations are substantial, it will not change the look of the building, said Chandler.

“It was important to preserve the historic nature of Johnson Hall,” he said.

The architectural firm Sinclair Hille is working on final design and cost estimates. University administrators are now reviewing proposals from contractors. Johnson Hall renovations will be completed in time for students to move in in mid-August.

A residential planning team has been working on the Johnson Hall renovation project. This team includes Chandler, Pete Armstrong, Dean of Students; Matt Kadavy, Director of Physical Plant; Brandi Sestak, Director of Residential Education; Jenny Gramann, admissions counselor; Pam Arnold, Assistant Professor of Chemistry; Steve Dow, Director of Information Systems and Infrastructure; and Lacey Adams, student.

The University will also add approximately 60 parking stalls across the street from the residence halls on Madison Ave. Chandler said the parking lot will provide a safe, off-street parking area where parking is in highest demand. Matt Kadavy is leading the effort on the new parking lot.

“It will not only help to reduce congestion but should also reduce the demand for on-street parking that we compete for with our neighbors,” said Chandler.

As part of the residential improvement project, Nebraska Wesleyan will also install wireless networking in all on-campus housing.

“This will provide improved network access to all residential students and expand our on-campus wireless capabilities as our students increase their use of wireless devices and our academic programs increasingly rely on technology,” he said.

Over the past two months, the University has replaced existing wireless access points on campus resulting in improvements in signal strength and support for the most current wireless standard (802.11n) and improving service and security.

Installation planning of the wireless technology in the residence halls— which is being led by Steve Dow and Tim Holzen — began this month and installation will be completed later this spring. Chandler said once wireless has been installed in the residence halls, the University will expand the wireless access throughout the remainder of campus. This will include areas in academic and administrative buildings that don’t already have complete wireless access, as well as some outdoor areas.

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Johnson Hall-the University's oldest residence hall-will undergo a major renovation beginning in May.