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Major improvements at Cornish and Van Hoesen halls 

Cornish Hall and Van Hoesen Hall, staples on campus since 1962, are undergoing big changes, with Wing C of the linked buildings receiving extensive updates.  

The $27 million project includes major interior and exterior renovations and is scheduled to be complete in January 2026. 

Construction began this summer and will bring all elements of the Communications and Media Studies Department together into one location on campus. It will also provide centralized locations for Counseling and Wellness Services, Disability Resources and the Educational Opportunity Program. Other goals of the project are: 

  • Outdoor spaces for casual gatherings and educational use. 
  • Enhanced acoustics and infrastructure for production studios.
  • Universally accessible spaces.
  • A distraction-free testing area for students.
  • Preparation for possible future geothermal well use.
  • Improved energy efficiency.
  • Improved drainage.
  • Ensuring building design longevity and maintainability. 

      “Despite the short-term inconveniences construction will cause, the benefits to our students and the university will be substantial,” said Professor Paul van de Veur, chair of the Communications and Media Studies Department. 

      The back parking lot of Cornish and Van Hoesen halls.

      He noted that while he and the rest of the department’s faculty want to ensure that construction doesn’t disrupt foot traffic or isolate their offices, they are excited about the updates. 

      “The field of communication has undergone significant changes in the past decade, changes that are impacting everything from our interpersonal communication to the ways that we interact with the media,” van de Veur said. “The spaces under development will allow us to better respond to these changes and will enhance our programs in Cinema Studies, Communication Studies, New Communication Media, and Media Production. The creation of a Student Media Commons will also bring together our student media audio, video and newspaper clubs into one space, allowing them to collaborate more effectively with each other and take advantage of greater access to the department faculty and production facilities.” 

      The renovation work will benefit students across campus, according to Juanita Larrabee, director of Facilities Planning, Design and Construction. 

      “Improvements to Counseling and Wellness, Disability Resources, and the Educational Opportunity Program will allow staff to better serve our students during some of their most challenging and vulnerable situations,” she said.  

      The building updates, she added, will address a severe lack of space, fragmentation of services and confidentiality issues. The expanded area is designed to be cohesive, meet student needs, and offer a programmatically and clinically effective space that protects students seeking help and support. 

      All renovation work is scheduled to finish by January 2026.

      An existing covered walkway on the ground floor of C-Wing will also be enclosed to create more interior space, and a small addition at the north end of the building will add an exit stair, entry vestibules and an elevator. 

      The renovation site will be closed during the 30-month construction window. To help with access to the building, a temporary asphalt walkway will lead to Cornish and Van Hoesen’s first floors from their back parking lot. Signs will be supplied and updated to ensure people know the safest routes to take as work continues. 

      Air quality testing will be performed over the course of the work to ensure health standards in the buildings. 

      During construction, students, faculty, staff and visitors will see these temporary changes: 

      • The Educational Opportunity Program moved from D-Wing to Old Main, Suite 136. 
      • The Communication and Media Studies faculty in D-Wing and the radio station relocated to B-Wing, Suite 219. 
      • Disability Resources moved from C-Wing to Memorial Library, Suite B121. 
      • The ROTC office moved from the B-Wing to the McDonald House.
      • The Faculty Senate office moved from Suite 219 to the McDonald House. 

         The campus community should also expect periodic closings of the east entrance to the B-Wing, to be communicated by a notice campuswide as well as to departments located in B-Wing. 

        Additional information on the construction can be found online. For questions or comments, contact Loralee Morrow at 607-753-2241 or Juanita Larrabee at 607-753-2217.