Classes will move into the newly completed Oden Hall as soon as Friday. In December, construction of Oden Hall wrapped up in preparation for its use for the spring semester. Oden Hall will house the Departments of Sociology, Anthropology, Political Science, Religious Studies, History and Philosophy, as well as the Center for the Study of American Democracy. The building’s opening will occur in three stages over the course of the year.
The completion of this new academic space follows those of the other buildings that make up the West Quad — Chalmers Library and Lowell House — which both opened up during the 2021-2022 school year. The West Quad project began back in July of 2019 and experienced several delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Oden Hall is named after former Kenyon President Robert A. Oden Jr. (pronounced oh-DEEN). Under Oden’s tenure, the College experienced a large expansion with the construction of new buildings such as those that make up the Science Quad. According to former Kenyon President Sean Decatur, the building honors his legacy as a leader who helped usher in a new age of development for the College.
Classes and staff will transition into Oden Hall gradually. Following the relocation of certain classes into the building, faculty members will move their offices over. The process of moving is tedious, so some faculty may not choose to make the switch until the summer, though President Jeff Bowman anticipates that some will make the transition sooner. “I’m guessing that once someone sees both the offices, they’ll be eager to come in because it’s a nice building,” he said.
Visually, Oden Hall resembles the design of Chalmers, with massive windows that overlook the ongoing development of the West Quad. Vice President of Student Affairs Celestino Limas describes the view from the windows as majestic, and he encourages students to get comfortable with the space and explore the places for both shared and independent study that it boasts. “[Oden Hall] opens itself up to certain types of collaboration,” he said. Other unique features of the building include a theater comparable to that of the Gund Gallery, where organizations will be able to host events in the future. Oden Hall also has access to the underground parking garage underneath Chalmers.
The Office of Campus Events will announce a formal ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the official opening of the building, the date of which has not yet been announced. Professor of Political Science Joseph Klesner is looking forward to teaching his courses in Oden. “The best aspect of the new building will be the bright new classrooms, which I expect will be great places to hold a class,” he said.
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