The College’s campus is home to numerous academic buildings in which students spend a majority of their time during the semester. Some locations, such as the School of Education Building, are brand new with top-of-the-line facilities and an aesthetically-pleasing design. These beautiful buildings, however, do not cover up the less-than-appealing locations.
In particular, Bliss Hall is wildly unpopular with students. Out of a surveyed 64 students, 75 percent said they do not look forward to having class in Bliss Hall.
The building, which is home to classes in philosophy, English, journalism and world languages, among other subjects, is in desperate need of repairs. From an outsider’s perspective, it would seem that the College is pouring all its effort into other areas on campus and ignoring this current, crumbling location.
With the school of Humanities and Social Sciences catering to a large portion of the campus community, many students have a majority of their classes in Bliss Hall. These classrooms are often dirty, cluttered and out-of-date. Even some of the professors who have offices in Bliss complain about the conditions. Take, for example, English professor Diane Steinberg, who had to be moved from her office due to a mold problem. It is evident that students are not the only ones dissatisfied with the building’s current state.
There were also plenty of other statistics to back this up, such as 34 students ranking Bliss Hall as the worst building on campus. Finally, 85 percent of students surveyed believe that Bliss Hall is in need of repairs.
Luckily, complaints have been heard and changes are on the way.
“In response to employee complaints and reports of apparent humidity-related issues, TCNJ engaged specialized consultants to inspect (Bliss Hall) and make recommendations on possible repairs,” said David Muha, associate vice president for Communications, Marketing and Brand Management.
A potential framework for rennovations has also been planned.
“There are plans for partial renovations to Bliss Hall,” Muha said. “The project is designed, and we expect to seek bids from contractors within the next several weeks. The work is aimed at remedying building humidity and associated environmental conditions that can affect air quality and occupant comfort. The bids should be received within approximately a month and work will be completed over the summer.”
When asked about how the College decides which buildings to renovate, Muha said they take a careful and thoughtful approach in determining which projects to advance and which to defer until more resources become available.
“In the spring of 2011, the Provost, the Treasurer and the vice president for Administration advanced a proposal for prioritizing projects to the Committee on Planning and Strategic Priorities (CPSP),” Muha explained.
The College has been operating under prioritization criteria ever since the CPSP proposal. The criteria by which projects are advanced, Muha said, are in order of importance.
The first projects that pass are those that involve improvements to conditions in life safety, health and security. Followed are projects that involve building code deficiencies, projects that will prevent more expensive damage in the future, repairs that were already started and repairs that will enhance enrollment capacity.
Benjamin Rifkin, Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, recently sent out an email to all faculty within his department stating that during the summer it will not be possible to access offices within Bliss Hall. Without going into many details, Rifkin stated that work would be done to manage the mold and humidity problems on all three floors.
These improvements, while necessary, will still not address the physical condition of many classrooms and interior hallways of the older building. Perhaps as more attention is drawn to problems that arise, a total renovation of Bliss Hall will occur sometime in the future.