By: Gabriel Donahue, Deputy News Editor
After construction delays, the $4.1 million collaborative resource epicenter for students within Albert S. Cook Library is predicted to open mid-September, according to library officials.
Located on the third floor of the library, the new Academic Commons is designed to cultivate student success, combining departments such as Academic Advising, Retention & Completion, the Writing Center, Accessibility and Disability Services, and others for a more streamlined experience for Towson students, Suzanna Yaukey, dean of university libraries, said.
The multi-million dollar project is a part of TU’s student success initiatives.
“These are all academic support services,” Yaukey said. “They’re all things that help you be successful as a student, they’re helpful to retaining students and helping them graduate on the track that you should graduate on so that you can get out into the working world, and earn and make money and increase your socioeconomic status in the process.”
As she explained, the official opening of the space is tentatively set for mid-September with no official date due to supply chain management shortages as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, she said if they have the ability to open the space earlier, they will.
Further, although the Commons will be open to the public in September minor adjustments will continue for a few months.
Beyond bringing essential services into one location, Yaukey said the goal of the project is to create a practical study environment that draws students in. To achieve this, the Commons will feature telephone booth-like study pods that allow students to join classes remotely in the coming months. Although classes are mostly back in person following the pandemic, providing these private spaces is still valuable for many students, she said.
Some of these study spaces will be open 24/7.
Additonally, Yaukey said the library will be developing a method to gain feedback from students who use the space.
“It definitely feels convenient to have everything in one place,” freshman Naomi Kilelu said, “especially in the library where a lot of people already come to study.”
The concept of a “one-stop shop” learning commons is not unique to TU. Yaukey said they consulted with North Carolina State University among others to receive feedback on developing TU’s Academic Commons.
While planning for the project began in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic caused set backs. During initial COVID outbreak, construction on campus was “limited to those needed for life safety or maintaining campus operations,” according to the university’s Operating Budget and Plan for the 2021 fiscal year. Construction officially began in February 2022.