The Buzz

Higgins Hall Opens Its Doors To Ambrosians

(Photo courtesy of Sydnee Hostman)

Higgins Hall opened for the first time since the 2022 spring semester. Faculty, students, and staff will now be able to enjoy a modern, more updated way of learning and teaching. Hosting three existing programs, the university spent $11.5 million in renovations. In 1916, the building cost $115,000.

The renovation has been made possible thanks to a donation from a former student, Tom Higgins. He attended the university back in the sixties to earn a political science degree and has been an advocate for social work since.

With five classrooms and more than 20 offices, The School of Social Work, the College of Health and Human Services, and the Institute for Person-Centered Care are now located in their own building.

Originally, the building was called LeClaire Hall, it housed the school’s auditorium, swimming pool, and gymnasium. Later, the physical plant was moved there after the PE center was opened in 1983.

The 105-year-old elevated track is a part of the project as well as the old basketball court which will host classes starting now. The remodeling included filling in the old swimming pool, re-structuring the layout, and adding walls to take advantage of the space as well as air conditioning and electricity tunnels. 

Joe Golden, Coordinator of the Master of Public Health program, says, “Having a separate space allows for the departments to work together and focus on their own programs, and events without having to share the space with others, allows for better collaboration and the technology is conducive for student learning and those involved in social work.” 

According to Lisa Fortner, the Online Coordinator for the SAU School of Social Work, Higgins is considered an upgrade since, “the College of Social Work used to be located off-campus, and it is a huge plus to be able to feel a close community is better than being in two separate buildings” when the departments have many common goals.

Although it could look like a maze for some students, the four-story building has many signs to help you find your destination. The new facility may be just what future students should expect campus halls to look like. 

Mahmoud Mohsen, an SAU psychology senior states, “Every department needs its own area to maximize its efficiency, hence giving the newest building on campus to human services is very important for students.” 

With new technological advancements such as updated electronic boards, technological schedules outside of the classrooms, and up-to-date projectors, students like Mohsen can enjoy a space that ‘allows more efficiency’ and ‘maximizes student learning’. He continues, “It should be a norm to have modern, and technologically advanced classrooms.” 

For alumni working for the school like Golden, it is important to keep historical buildings. He says, “It is better for nature and keeps people close to their campus.” 

For Fortner it is important to get more marketing and advertising. From her experience, she says, “Not even alumni know about the newly renovated Higgins Hall.”

Fortner trusts the details will work together in the end by emphasizing the importance of new adjustments for students. She explains, “Moving to a new building is a good change for everybody, embracing that change is important for us and giving grace during that change, and it will take time.” 

This project opens many doors to a better path for Ambrosians to use their knowledge, talents, and career skills in service to others.

For a look inside Higgins Hall, find more from SAUtv here.