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Ryan Refectory to be converted into lab, office, classroom space

by Richard Veilleux - February 27, 2006

Ryan Refectory, a dining hall located in Alumni Quad, will close after the spring semester to make way for a high-tech classroom, laboratories, and offices.

“Additional classroom and lab space are absolutely essential to the academic enterprise,” Provost Peter J. Nicholls said last week.

“The campus is desperate for lab space for the social sciences, and the renovation of Ryan will help us continue to improve our overall academic quality.”

Besides lab space and offices, the conversion of the 11,200-square-foot dining hall will include a 50-seat classroom with interactive technology that will allow presentations at the UConn Health Center to be transmitted to Storrs.

One of nine dining halls on campus, Ryan has been losing customers to the popular South Campus Dining Hall, located less than 100 yards from the Alumni Quad residence halls.

Another 100 yards to the opposite side of Alumni is a large dining hall at McMahan residence hall. Also closing will be the WEBB Site, a grab-and-go in Ryan that serves pizza and sandwiches until 11 p.m.

“Granted, all students enjoy having a dining hall in the buildings where they live,” says Dennis Pierce, director of dining services, “but the University’s academic needs are many, and there has been a significant drop in the number of students eating at Ryan since South Campus opened.

“Remaining open also would have required some expensive renovations and equipment purchases,” he adds, “and with two other dining areas so close to Ryan, that expense would be hard to justify.”

Pierce says all 22 employees and the hall’s student employees will be reallocated across campus, including positions in the food court at the new Student Union, which is expected to open in June.

The food court will feature five restaurants, including three fast-food eateries that Pierce says will cover the loss of the WEBB Site.

Currently, the area beneath Ryan Refectory is used by the Center for Health/HIV Intervention and Prevention (CHIP), a 15-year-old program directed by Jeffrey Fisher, a professor of psychology.

CHIP is a multidisciplinary research center dedicated to the study of the dynamics of health risk behavior and processes of health behavioral change in individuals and targeted at-risk populations.

Since its founding, CHIP researchers have secured more than $21 million in grants. They have launched major new health behavior change initiatives, including new work in the areas of HIV prevention, medical adherence, diabetes management, cancer prevention, nutrition, pharmacology, substance abuse, health information technology, and other health domains.

Some of the renovated space in the building will be devoted to CHIP, and the Office of International Affairs will move to the site from its present location n the basement of the Human Development and Family Studies Building.

That space will be renovated to accommodate the Nayden Rehabilitation Clinic, now located in the old Fleet Bank Building on Dog Lane. The current Nayden Clinic site will be razed as part of the Downtown Storrs initiative.

Conversion of Ryan is expected to be completed by January 2007.  

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