The comfort quotient

- January 26, 2009

Sarah Vinette, a second-year neuroscience and math student, takes a few minutes to review notes between classes. The artwork behind her is by Eva Knoll. (Nick Pearce Photo)

Students in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics have a new bright and spacious room to study in.

The departmental library on the first floor of the Chase Building has switched places with the student learning centre in the basement so that students can have the prime spot.

“It was clear that we needed better space for the students—the old space was very busy but not that pleasant,” says Karl Dilcher, chair of the department.

Since last June, the large room has been spiffed up with new windows, carpeting, lighting and furniture. The room’s sound proofing panels do double duty: as well as eliminating echoes, they showcase bright, vibrant silk-screened art pieces by artist/professor Eva Knoll which explore mathematical themes. Facilities Management's Carolyn Green was the project leader responsible for the design and execution of the project and trades work was done in-house by Facilities Management staff.

The room is furnished with chairs and tables where students can study or work quietly in groups. They can also seek help from one of two TAs who are available to meet with students in groups or individually from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

Pavlo Skazhenyuk, a third-year computer science student, gets some help from TA Victor Bomers. (Nick Pearce Photo)

“Students can come and work on their assignments, and if there’s something missing or something they didn’t understand, they have confidence in knowing there’s someone you can ask for help,” says Mark Pavlovski, a four-year math major and TA.

The room also has a more relaxed space off to one side. It’s furnished with leather tub chairs and couches, where students can chat, read or play a board game. All the homey touches—the art, pillows and cool sculptures—were made possible through the resourcefulness of Gretchen Smith, administrator for the department, and through funds donated by Dr. Graeme and Alberta Boswall.

Pierre Stevens, director of the Math and Statistics Learning Centre, says having the space staffed eight hours a day with TAs represents the department’s commitment to students. “We will bend over backwards to try and help them and to enrich their experience at Dalhousie.”


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