Division of Outreach Sets Open House to Show Off New Space
Community invited to tour new facility Nov. 9 at Jackson Avenue Center
OXFORD, Miss. – Demand for educational opportunities delivered in new and innovative ways continues to grow. Earlier this fall, the University of Mississippi Division of Outreach and Continuing Education set events in motion that will help the university keep up with these evolving needs.
Just before the fall semester began, the division's faculty and staff members moved files, boxes, computers and years of experience to the university's Jackson Avenue Center, at 1111 West Jackson Ave., next to the Ole Miss Barnes & Noble bookstore and Malco's Oxford Studio Cinema. The 41,500-square-foot area includes conference spaces, two testing centers and offices for 10 departments.
The division will open its doors for an open house from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday (Nov. 9). Everyone is invited to come view the space, locate colleagues in their new offices and preview the conference spaces available for events.
"This move is helping the division expand offerings and services for UM students, faculty, staff and the community," said Tony Ammeter, UM associate provost for outreach and dean of general studies. "Relocating to the Jackson Avenue Center made sense for the university and the division.
"We were able to free up prime real estate in the heart of campus and at the same time gain space to advance the mission of our unit."
The Division of Outreach vacated nearly 22,000 square feet at the E.F. Yerby Conference Center. Also included in the move were department offices on the second floor of Kinard Hall.
"We hope the newly renovated space provides opportunities for our staff to continue creating and implementing innovative educational opportunities that serve the university community, our city, state and nation," Ammeter said.
With construction beginning in March 2016, the university's Jackson Avenue Phase II renovation encompasses previously unused space in the former Oxford Wal-Mart and mall area. The space includes three new 150- to 250-seat conference room auditoriums that are available for event rental by university and community constituents.
"We are thrilled to see how this former Wal-Mart space has been transformed into a state-of-the-art office facility," Provost Noel Wilkin said. "It will be a wonderful home for our outreach staff. They do tremendous work, and I am pleased that they have nice facilities within which to continue their support of the academic and outreach efforts of our institution."
The division houses several departments that offer nontraditional learning opportunities for students.
"This move has given our office the opportunity to increase our instructional designer and training specialist teams for UM's online programs," said April Thompson, director of academic outreach. "We are excited to have the ability to provide more in-person and virtual workshops with more space for faculty training."
The Department of College Programs, headed by Laura Antonow, is among the departments getting new space in the renovation. It includes iStudy, Study USA, the Internship Experiences Programs and the UM Testing Centers.
The Educational Testing Services center and the Distance Education Testing Lab are housed in the Linda Chitwood Testing Center, on the west side of the JAC.
Named for former dean of the School of Applied Sciences and associate provost for outreach, this new space doubles the seating for UM students who need to take proctored exams as well as students and community members who are looking to take professional exams, such as the Praxis exam for teaching licensure and the Graduate Record Exam for those looking to pursue graduate studies.
The ETS testing center has seen a 20 percent increase in test-takers utilizing testing services in the past two years. The new testing center space more than doubles the number of seats available for those taking any of the 10-plus different types of proctored exams administered through the office.
During mid-term and final exam timeframes, the Distance Education Testing Lab can have up to 450 students who need test proctoring space each day, said Catherine Hultman, DETL testing coordinator. The new testing lab includes 32 testing modules as well as auditorium space reserved for use during mid-terms and finals.
Also found in the newly renovated areas is the Office of General Studies that provides administration and advising for more than 500 undergraduate majors. Ammeter, Assistant to the Dean Terry Blackmarr, and the BGS advisers and staff are housed on the east side of the building.
The Office of Professional Development and Lifelong Learning's move to the JAC will help staff further expand upon their work within the community, state, and nation to ensure educational opportunities are available to people of all ages and walks of life, said Mary Leach, the department's director.
The Office of Pre-College programs, under the direction of Ellen Shelton, offers programming throughout the year for kindergarten through 12th-graders. From academic competitions to numerous summer learning opportunities, the varied activities organized through this office encourage students to strengthen skills and grow academically and personally.
Also included in the JAC are administrative offices for the university's regional campuses overseen by Rick Gregory and the academic outreach office that encompasses UM's online, winter and summer sessions.
Further space allotments were made for the division's service units, including its business and accounting office overseen by Beth Sanders; operations and conference services office; and the Department of Creative Services and Marketing, under the direction of Janey Ginn.
The provost's office also aided the addition of a Technology-Enabled Active Learning training room, located off the atrium of the new space. This room will be available to UM faculty and staff.
"From training teachers and law enforcement to organizing university conferences and events, we are excited that these new conference facility areas will make more space available for these learning opportunities," said Justin Murphree, director of outreach operations.
Emily Ferris, Outreach’s program manager for planning and assessment, served as the division’s liaison with UM’s facilities management throughout the renovation and move to the new location.
“I had no idea what all went into renovating and moving into a new building,” Ferris said. “From the signage, to the technology, the furniture, keys and so much more, it takes many, many people to make it happen. We are thankful to the architects, construction team, University administrators, faculty, and staff that made this move possible.”
To RSVP for the Nov. 9 open house, visit this webpage.