Dean Sharon Johnson, her colleagues, and the many students who make up the School of Social Work at the University of Missouri-St. Louis spent the semester acclimating to his surroundings on the fourth floor of the Social Sciences and Business Building.
The school moved from its former home in Bellerive Hall in 2020, and the building was demolished last summer as part of the university’s ongoing efforts to consolidate some campus buildings and reduce deferred maintenance costs.
Johnson and the rest of the faculty began unpacking in their new space in the summer of 2020, but most have spent the majority of the past year working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“People had come, and they had decorated, but they just didn’t get to spend a lot of time here,” Johnson said. “I think they are happy with their offices. They were really excited to have new desks and furniture.
The suite located at the north end of the building also has a teachers’ lounge with amenities such as a refrigerator with an ice maker and a large conference room equipped with the latest networking technology.
Renovations to the area also created a dedicated lounge that social work students could use to relax between classes or gather for small group study sessions.
But perhaps the biggest benefit was feeling more connected to the rest of the campus community. Social work was the sole occupant of Bellerive Hall, and it took more effort to connect to other parts of campus, especially those such as the Millennium Student Center on the north side of Natural Bridge Road.
“Just being able to have the library, having the other writing lab, the MSC — some of the resources that we refer students to — close by has been nice,” Johnson said. “Before, it was more work for the students to come and use the resources. There is definitely some convenience there.
“Even for the professors, if someone’s hosting a conference, it took more thought and planning if you wanted to go to North Campus to attend rather than, ‘Oh, just let me walk down the hall or walk down or cross the bridge at the MSC.’”
Johnson also hopes it will help the rest of campus and potential students who may be visiting for tours connect with the School of Social Work.
“We always want people to be aware of social work and know what social work does, and we do a lot of community programs, a lot of things that people on campus might be interested in,” Johnson said. “But again, making the trip to Bellerive to support a program or get involved at this level was difficult. So this is an opportunity for the campus to become more aware of the great work, research, and community engagement that we do.
Short URL: https://blogs.umsl.edu/news/?p=91608