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ILC opens its doors today

By Daniel Scarpinato
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday Jan. 9, 2002
DAVID HARDEN/Arizona Daily Wildcat

The $20 million Integrated Learning Center sat empty yesterday, but the underground classroom complex will open for the first time today. Special systems technicians worked 14-hour shifts to get the ILC ready for use.

More than 200 computer workstations draw in students

UA students will flood the corridors and lecture halls of the ILC for the first time today after three years of financial and construction hiccups that left many officials wondering if the $20 million underground facility would ever open.

Those fears where quelled in November when officials announced the computer and classroom center would open despite university-wide budget cuts and with limited technology.

"It's often quite amazing to see students using the (Integrated Learning Center)," said Lynne Tronsdal, associate dean of the Universty College. "Students are already in there working. That's what it's all about."

The Media Center - an area of the ILC that would have allowed instructors to catalogue their lectures for students to access through the use of high-tech equipment - will not be open this semester.

At the October dedication of the ILC, University of Arizona President Peter Likins told hundreds of on-lookers that the Media Center was the "technological apex of the entire enterprise, and we can't stop short of that."

Officials say they are confident the Media Center will open eventually. In the meantime, the center will operate as a state-of-the-art classroom complex and computer lab, Tronsdal said.

Janet Fore, head of the undergraduate services team, said installers worked throughout the end of December to set up more than 200 flat-screen computers in the Information Commons area, which serves as a passageway from the basement of the library to the ILC. On Jan. 2, that facility opened for students to use.

Fore said the commons have attracted more students each day it has been open, and the reactions have been positive.

"It's awesome," Laura Crumbacher, an ecology and evolutionary biology junior, said about the Information Commons. "It's all really impressive - the large space, the flat screens."

Fore said the upstairs computer lab area in the library is being reconfigured to serve as a reference and study area, and only a few computers in that lab are available right now.

Eventually, the computers that remain will be equipped with only the library's SABIO reference material, but workstations in the Information Commons have Internet access and higher-end software that the old lab did not have.

Tronsdal said instructors who will be teaching in the ILC attended orientation this week to learn how to operate the equipment in the center's classrooms and lecture halls.

The ILC was originally scheduled to open last fall, but construction delays last spring and over the summer caused the opening to be postponed.


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