Overcrowding causes PSU space crunch

    Classroom space is dwindling as enrollment at PSU continues to rise. In response to the space crunch, administrators have split the classrooms in PCAT using temporary soft dividers.

    ”We’re very crowded,” said Lindsay Desrochers, vice president for finance and administration.

    The Portland Center for Advanced Technology (PCAT), however, is slated to be destroyed in July 2007 to make way for the new recreation center, leaving Portland State with 13 fewer classrooms.

    ”You cannot, realistically, reduce classrooms, and increase enrollment at the same time,” said Mark Gregory, associate vice president of strategic planning. The answer: find a space, figure out the cost, find out how to pay for it. “We’re looking at this time for a solution to that problem,” he said.

    PSU bought the blue brick building for the location, and the plan has always been to demolish it and rebuild a structure for student recreation, a restaurant and academic space for the social work graduate program.

    ”PCAT has always been for temporary classrooms,” Gregory said.

    Though official numbers for the fall won’t be released until after the fourth week of the term, the Office of Institutional Research and Planning estimates that there are 3.6 percent more students than there were last fall. There are even more students on the PSU campus, and as early as January there will be fewer classrooms on the main campus.

    Desrochers says the university is aggressively seeking solutions to the overcrowded problem by renting out office space like the Unitus Building on Southwest Fourth Street across from University Place. Facilities has converted three to five offices into classrooms in the Unitus Building and the architecture department will move there in January, according to Desrochers. Other Shattuck Hall classrooms are being moved to the Fourth Avenue Building on Southwest Fourth and Harrison. And the 13 PCAT classrooms that go offline at the end of the school year will be relocated to unnamed near-campus buildings.

    Currently, Gregory is touring locations that will take the place of existing PCAT classrooms. Neither he nor Desrochers would say which near-campus sites the university is considering because they said it might affect negotiations.

    Signs that read “Room Changed” and “Class Canceled” are on many of the doors of PCAT. Room 140 has 12 of them.

    ”There are many reasons for room changes and class cancellations,” said Cindy Baccar, director of registration and records. “If a professor can take on more students, but not another section, that professor may want a bigger classroom.” Other reasons for changes include the demand for a classroom closer to a department, or closer to a professor’s office.

    Baccar said the office of admissions is aware of the pressure of the increased student population and the university’s limited space. Regarding scheduling, Baccar said at this time there is equal coverage for the necessary general pool of students.