I’ve often heard that politics is like making sausage – you don’t want to know what goes on behind the closed doors! I have a new appreciation for that mental image after being involved in the BIMS labs renovation this summer. Behind the closed doors of the construction area things are going on with little visible indication of progress being made…and we’re supposed to be in the labs in about three weeks. I think it is safe to say – we’ll be moving into the labs in September! Arghh!
Construction is a bit like a living organism – what you see on the surface belies all that must happen metabolically and genetically deep within. In construction, those underlying activities are plumbing and electrical and cabling and ductwork. Without the infrastructure, the surface appearance is meaningless – the unseen stuff is what makes the seen stuff work. All of us at McMurry and in Biomedical Science are eagerly awaiting the day when the chaos of construction transitions into the order of new spaces and we can move on to our purpose – teaching and research with bright students.
We are not waiting for completion of construction to begin readying ourselves for the fall semester. In the works are alternative educational activities until the labs are ready – simulations, field trips, etc. We also are busy ordering the equipment and supplies that will go into those spaces. So, when we get the go-ahead to occupy the labs there will be a flurry of activity transforming spaces into teaching and research labs. You are all invited to come visit and see for yourselves why great excitement fills the air on campus.
It’s one thing to plan new spaces, but another thing to transition from where you are to where you will be. Countless hours have gone into designing spaces, getting quotes on equipment, and thinking through efficient and effective use of space. Now that such things are largely under control and winding down, attention is shifting toward moving out of the spaces so the work can begin.
There is a very narrow window of time during which everything has to be done. We end classes the first week of May and the fall semester starts mid-August. So anything we can do to hasten the start of construction is important. We are already in the process of ordering cabinetry and equipment. May should be the time for demolition and asbestos abatement. Planning is underway for storage of equipment and supplies from the affected spaces during the process. Our miniaturized version of D-Day planning is going well.
To help provide as much time as possible for construction, we have been given the green light to end our lab courses early. My microbiology course will finish a week or so early, and is actually done in the lab. We will finish the semester using VirtualUnknown(TM) Microbiology to accomplish much of the same work in simulation that we would normally do in the wetlab. Dr. Benoit is similarly finding ways to complete his courses’ use of the Micro lab ahead of schedule. Edvotek kits for his immunology course have been a lifesaver! Dr. D’s work in the genetics/molecular lab will likewise wind down in the next couple of weeks, and her headstart on packing nonessentials is well underway.
Like trapeze artists using perfect timing to leave one swing in order to catch the other, we are doing all we can to help the construction folks move in and complete their work easily and quickly. Then, we hope to be able to complete the maneuver by moving back in during August.
This coming fall there will be a few modest changes to the BIMS program. Part of our ongoing assessment is focused on how our students are doing; the remainder is focused on how our courses and program structure can be improved. Based on feedback received, we are making these changes:
1. We are changing BIOL 4320 Molecular Cell Biology to be BIMS 4320 Molecular Cell Biology. It made no sense to us to have a course listed under BIOL when Biology majors are not required to take the course and it cannot count for credit toward their major, when that same course is a required BIMS program course.
2. We are modifying the way advanced electives are to be categorized through the addition of two new course numbers: BIMS 4X91 Advanced Topics in Microbiology and Public Health, and BIMS 4X92 Advanced Topics in Genetics and Molecular Biology. Since program inception last year, we have allowed a wide variety of courses to satisfy the 9 hrs of upper level BIMS program electives – courses from Biology, Biochemistry, Psychology, Pathophysiology from the nursing program, and Kinesiology. We believe more focus is needed to help strengthen the core of BIMS-centric courses, and so these two new course designations will be our first step in doing this.
3. We are dropping BIOL 4310 Immunology. This course will still be offered annually, but will now be a course under BIMS 4391 Advanced Topics in Microbiology and Public Health: Immunology (probably to be referred to as Advanced Topics: Immunology). Dr. D’s Cancer Biology will be offered as a 4392 Advanced Topics: Cancer Biology. So, though it would seem we are losing a very important course (Immunology), the fact is it still will be offered but under a new number.
4. We are re-designating the 3-hour requirement for Immunology as a 3-hour requirement for any BIMS 4X91 OR BIMS 4X92 offering, opening the program to be tailored more toward the interests and needs of our students.
With these simple changes, we believe we have made a small but important step in improving our program.