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Political Science to move into Music Hall after $10 million renovation

The Department of Political Science will be leaving its current space in Willis Hall and moving into Music Hall, which will be undergoing renovations paid for with a $10 million gift from donors Michael ’95 and Mary Ann Hasenstab.

Political Science was chosen to move into the space after a year of discussions held by a space-planning committee. According to Eric Egge, Chair of the Math and Statistics department a member of the committee, the group was asked to consider “possible uses of several of the spaces affected by the opening of Evelyn M. Anderson Hall and the music addition to Weitz, including Old Music and the CMC.”

Dean Beverly Nagel told the Carletonian that the Hasenstabs asked Carleton to use the renovated building for academic purposes, so the committee did not consider the possibility of using the space solely for floating offices or non-academic programs. Otherwise, “what department(s) or programs would go into the building and the details of a renovation,” said Nagel, “were College decisions.”

According to Nagel, who sat in on the committee meetings, the group considered a number of factors while deciding on the Music Hall’s future occupants, including “which departments and programs were most cramped for, or had most inadequate, space” and who “would benefit from Music Hall’s location and its proximity to the Center for Mathematics and Computing and the science complex.”

Departments and programs facing space constraints and location changes in the coming year—including Political Science, Economics, Linguistics, Math and Statistics, and Carleton’s Information Technology Services —were asked to send representatives to the committee.

Ultimately, the donors’ preferences and the limited space available in Music Hall dictated that one large department would move into the building.

According to Devashree Gupta, Chair of the Political Science Department and a member of the committee, donor Michael Hasenstab’s academic background played a role in the committee’s decision to narrow the options to Economics and Political Science.

“The donor is a Carleton alum who was a Political Science/IR major and has a PhD in economics. And so he has a deep connection to these two disciplines. It wasn’t a requirement, but these are the departments that he has an affinity with.”

Once the committee identified Political Science and Economics as candidates for the space, the Tuesday Group — which consists of President Poskanzer and senior Carleton staff — asked both departments to conduct internal surveys to gauge faculty and staff members’ “priorities and preferences” regarding a potential relocation.

According to Nagel, who is a part of the group of administrators that reviewed the surveys, “the decision for the Tuesday Group was quite straightforward,” since “Political Science indicated that their preference was to move to Old Music, and Economics indicated that theirs was to remain in Willis.”

Regarding why members of the Political Science Department preferred to move to Music Hall, Gupta said that the new space would offer “more flexible social space to encourage faculty-student interactions and student-student interactions” as well as “more spaces to be used as research stations for faculty-student research.”

According to Gupta, the interdisciplinary connections that might be possible in a new location on campus also made moving to Music Hall an appealing option.

“We already have this record of collaboration, inter-disciplinary interest. But also, we wanted to make the case that increasingly some of the most exciting potential partnerships are with the natural science departments.”

“Those sorts of connections,” said Gupta, “are not as intuitive with political science, and therefore proximity can actually help foster them.”

The Economics Department could not be reached for comment about why its faculty and staff preferred to remain in Willis.

Music Hall is currently temporarily occupied by the offices of the Physics and Psychology departments, which were located in Olin Hall prior to this academic year. These offices will eventually move out of Music Hall as renovations to Olin are completed.

Moving forward, members of the Political Science Department will coordinate with an architect on the plans for the project design. The renovations, which are set to begin during the 2021-2022 academic year, will likely involve substantial changes to the building. The 2014 Facilities Master Plan singles out Music Hall as “in need of a complete overhaul for its mechanical infrastructure, sound insulation and functional layout.” Gupta, who will be involved in the planning, told the Carletonian that she hopes the project will “retain some of the beautiful architectural features of the building.”

When the renovations are complete, Music Hall will be renamed Hasenstab Hall after the donors of the $10 million dollar gift.

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