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‘Flexible’ education staff finds temporary home in planetarium

August 6th, 2009

When Blake Haselton sits down in his new, makeshift office space, $3 space shuttle balloons, 50 cent earth-shaped erasers and a rack full of solar system t-shirts are peering over his shoulder. That’s because the new home for the interim dean of the University of Louisville’s College of Education and Human Development is inside the gift shop at the Rauch Planetarium.

Inside the tiny gift shop, small tables and laptop computers have become the workstations for Haselton and his top staff. Other staffers have taken over the planetarium’s classroom space and lobby.

The dean’s office moved to the planetarium on Thursday because the flood damaged education building is closed and may remain closed for a few weeks.

“We’re flexible,” Haselton said. “We try to communicate that to educators all the time. Now that’s what we’re doing. Our attitude is ‘can do’.”

The education building is in the worst shape of all flood-damaged buildings on the Belknap campus. Water was nine feet deep in the basement and diesel fuel from an above ground storage tank flowed inside, getting into the insulation and duct work and sending strong fumes through the entire building.

The education building is one of 10 that will remain closed on Friday as crews continue to mop up water, tear up carpet and drywall and deal with the general destruction from Tuesday’s flash flooding.

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Kevin Cooper, joined by wife Julie and son Brook, gets class advice from education faculty member Tricia Bronger. Large image

Building closures have prompted staff members who normally work in the Houchens and Fairfax buildings to also find office space elsewhere. Employees who were surrounded by high water and stranded for hours inside the Houchens Building on Tuesday, were spreading into open spaces in various campus buildings on Thursday. One group of 18 employees is now housed in Strickler Hall office space designed to accommodate eight. Communications and Marketing staff members have found new homes in conference rooms and the office of a vacationing boss.

UofL President James Ramsey told employees and reporters that he was “encouraged by the spirit of cooperation of everyone on campus” and Provost Shirley Willihnganz said “the number of people who are good naturedly pulling together is heartwarming.”

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