Updated On February 25, 2019 - 12:51pm

Ahmanson Foundation Grants $250,000 for General Assignment Classrooms for the Humanities

A team of campus partners has successfully collaborated on a grant proposal to renovate General Assignment Classrooms. The grant, awarded by the Ahmanson Foundation, represents the first use of outside funding to support non-departmental teaching spaces at UCLA. OID Learning Spaces staff members Rob Rodgers and Jonathan Castro worked closely with colleagues from the Humanities Division and College Development to achieve this important result.

In April 2018, Assistant Dean Reem Hanna-Harwell, Humanities, held several discussions with Corporate and Foundation Relations about renovating classrooms heavily used by Humanities faculty. Jessica Robinson, the Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations, thought the Ahmanson Grant would be the best fit for Humanities; and these rooms were selected – Royce 148, 156, 162, and Dodd 78. Reem contacted Rob Rodgers of Learning Spaces (formerly Educational Technology Systems) for assistance in the proposal. They discussed recent renovations of classrooms and thought this would be the best chance to receive grant money for these General Assignment Classrooms, something that had never been done before.

Jonathan Castro contacted classroom furniture vendors, Facilities Management, and Classroom Technology, Design and Maintenance Manager Daniel Bustos to explore what could be done for these four rooms. Each group participated in the project during the summer while renovations of Math Sciences and Boelter were ongoing. After estimates and seating layouts were created, meetings with Jonathan, Reem, Jessica, and Rob brought final decisions for each room. Capacities were approved by the Registrar; new seating designs that would allow students to turn to each other for discussions were given a thumbs up. All numbers and design choices were presented in the team’s only meeting with the representative from the Ahmanson Foundation in December 2018. Answers were given to their questions about the last time these rooms were renovated, why it was needed, and what the future would bring. A January 2019 timeline was given for final decisions, and on the 24th, an award of $250,000 was approved!

After almost an entire year of discussing a grant that seemed out of the team’s grasp, they are now making design decisions and researching what is best for students and faculty in these classrooms. Dodd 78 and Royce rooms 148, 156, and 162 will receive an entirely new look - new flooring, new lighting, better projection, and whiteboards. Better internet service is being proposed to handle student conferencing needs with Zoom or group work huddled around a few computers. Since Smart Boards cannot fit in these rooms, the team is hoping to have the same ability to share screens wirelessly as is available in A44 with the Solstice App from Mersive. Classroom Technology, Design and Maintenance is researching the best technology for wireless sharing in these rooms.

Kudos to Learning Spaces management and professional staff, to Jessica Robinson, and to Humanities leadership for this infusion of assistance to help improve the learning environment for UCLA faculty and students. More news will come throughout the coming summer!