A campus-wide plan that rearranges University services and departments will be implemented this year. The first move will displace the Speech and Hearing Center, the Center for Psychological Services and Clinical Studies, and the University Reading Center.
“For a long time we’ve wanted the three clinics together,” said Dr. Jeffrey Fagen, Dean of St. John’s College, about the move. “We could never do it on campus and now we have that opportunity.”
The clinics will move to the newly acquired off-campus housing located at 152-11 Union Turnpike. The property houses 84 students in two high-rise apartment towers, St. John’s spokeswoman Suzi Halpin told the Fresh Meadows Times.
The Chiang Ching Kuo building, situated next to the Sun Yat Sen Center, has housed the Speech and Hearing Center since 1976, the year the building was built, according to information provided by the University.
According to Fagen, the space will now house the Career Center, which has been utilizing “substandard space” in Marillac Hall, and will possibly house the Department of Human Resources.
The Center for Psychological Services and Clinical Studies, presently in the basement of Bent Hall, will move to its new location by Thanksgiving break, said Fagen. Their old space will be allocated to offices of the Bursar, Registrar, and Financial Aid.
“It will be one stop shopping,” Fagen said of having the three clinics together off campus. “A parent could bring a child and have all of the opportunities offered to them right there. It’s a beautiful new space and we will update all of the equipment. Now they’ll be in the community, they are community-based programs.”
According to Dr. Donna Geffner, the Director of the Speech and Hearing Center, the other programs are happy to go because they are more community based than the Speech Center and the off-campus location provides a more professional look to outsiders. The Center has started a petition that has so far garnered 150 names of students, parents and clients that are against the move.
“They want our space for whatever purposes and they want to put all of the clinics together but we function differently then they do,” Geffner said. “The other programs are for graduate students, while we serve many undergraduates that need the Center on campus because of their class schedules.”
According to Geffner, there are over a 100 undergraduate speech pathology majors and approximately 175 graduate students who will be directly affected by a move off campus.
“Academically we’re excited about this,” Fagen said. “I’m aware of the petition but the shuttle bus will offset much of the problem and the speech department will just change the times of their classes.”
“We’ve been here from the beginning,” said Ewa Dynda, a graduate assistant for the Speech and Hearing Center, who worked for the center as an undergraduate for the past four years. “It’s a great space, we have everything we need here and it would be a lot to move, especially since this building was built for us to begin with.”
Some however do not believe that the move will greatly inconvenience students.
“It’s only a mile down the road,” Nicole Mickiewicz, a senior speech pathology major, said. “Other schools don’t even have a speech center. It is an inconvenience but it honestly wouldn’t bother me. They could get rid of it entirely.”
Others like Aspasia Kalogeropoulos, a transfer speech pathology major from Nassau Community College, came to St. John’s specifically because the clinic is in a convenient location on campus.
“That’s a huge reason why I came here,” Kalogeropoulos said. “The teachers are here and they teach on campus, so there is no one that is really happy about it.”
The building contains rooms used for diagnostic work, audiological tests, observation and therapy. It is outfitted with state-of-the art equipment, including audiometers, soundproof booths, rooms with two-way mirrors and speakers, and a DVD system networked throughout the center for teaching purposes.
“I pay too much money to be going all the way over there,” Lauren Pagan, a senior speech pathology major, said. “Between classes we just come right over and if we move we would have to get overrides for our schedules so that we could get there.”
Speech pathology undergraduates and graduate students in the audiology Ph.D. program, both out of St. John’s College, use the Speech and Hearing Center to gain hands on experience in their field, by working under the supervision of the professionals at the center, most of whom are St. John’s professors.
According to Geffner, senior speech pathology majors have their own clients from the Center to supplement their academic studies. The Center’s staff is certified by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and licensed by the state Department of Education.
“They just built the sports complex, this is our extra-curricular spot,” said Anna Soloviev, a senior speech pathology major.
Fagen also discussed other university plans, which would transform Newman Hall, now an administrative building, into an academic building that would house departmental offices and possibly some classrooms.
“The School of Education has already moved from Marillac Hall to Sullivan Hall, CPS and Tobin will move to where the Bursar and Registrar are now. What we really want is for all the academic buildings to surround the Great Lawn area. This is really something that the students have asked for,” Fagen said.