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This is what’s happening with the Willet Science Center

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This is what’s happening with the Willet Science Center

Willet is currently being renovated.

Willet is currently being renovated.

Drew Daws

Willet is currently being renovated.

Drew Daws

Drew Daws

Willet is currently being renovated.

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Walking through the parking lot behind the Stetson School of Business it is nearly impossible to ignore the blue tarp surrounding Willet, the university’s former science center.

James Netherton, executive vice president for administration and finance, said the university plans to renovate the building to fit the needs of departments that will soon occupy the space.

Once construction is complete, the building will house the computer science, psychology and public health departments, he said. Some engineering programs will be relocated to Willet, as the university recently added a civil engineering program.

“We have the first class of civil engineering students on campus now, and they really need to be in one of the two existing buildings,” Netherton said. “What they are going to do is take things that can be more easily moved, like certain environmental and biomechanical labs and student workspaces, over to Willet.”

The university has also approved a master’s of athletic training in the public health department, which will be housed in Willet as well, Netherton said.

There are multiple educational opportunities for students that want to be involved in athletic training,” he said. “Athletic training makes much more sense because of the booming athletic program that we now have.”

Because many of the departments do not require labs, Netherton said the classrooms will undergo extensive changes.

“We have a different set of needs, and we are going to adapt the building to those new needs,” Netherton said.

The foremost issue is asbestos abatement, he said, after which construction will begin on the interior.

“There are a lot of things about Willet that are worn out,” Netherton said. “We are going to modify the building, bring things up to date, and address a number of code issues.”

Russell Vullo, associate vice president for facilities, said the first floor of the building will house the psychology department. The second floor will house the computer science department, and the third floor will be shared by the engineering and public health departments.

“We worked closely with each department, altering the design several times to accommodate the needs of the user,” he said. “This ranged from the number and size of office spaces, classrooms and private study areas.”

Other additions include an elevator certified by the Americans with Disabilities Act and one unisex bathroom per floor, Vullo said.

While the exterior will not be altered,fume hoods and vents will be removed from the roof to give the center a more modern appearance, he said.

“The building will have new flooring, new paint and a new ceiling,” Vullo said. “By replacing the old equipment, we will be able to provide a more advanced learning experience.”

Construction began on Jan. 31 Netherton said, and the university hopes to complete the renovations by the end of the year.

“It is our hope that the renovations will be finished by December and that it can be occupied come January 2019,” Netherton said.

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This is what’s happening with the Willet Science Center