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Jennett hall open for classes

The days of squeezing past people in the aisles and bumping your knees on the backs of auditorium seats during large section classes are over. If you have a class in Jennett Hall, that is.

As of Jan. 31, the new Jerry and Kay Jennett Lecture Hall is open. This new addition is attached to the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education.

The building houses two lecture halls, one downstairs and another upstairs, each with more than 300 seats.

“I am extremely pleased with the way the building turned out,” Dr. Patrick Schloss, VSU president, said. “The architects had a number of meetings with members of our faculty and incorporated the design elements valued most by the faculty that they had met with.”

Also pleased with the new building is John Fretti, mayor of Valdosta.

“The architecture, the layout, the acoustics, the visibility of the hall…it’s a very impressive design, both floors,” he said.

Each lecture hall has two screens for maximum visibility during presentations.

“The sight lines are rock solid regardless of where you are in the room,” Dr. Schloss said. “[Students will] have good sight lines to one or the other or both screens.”

Students at the back of the room won’t have to feel so far away from instructors anymore, either. The seats are fanned out so that no student is too far away from the front of the room.

Though the seating was designed to keep students close to the instructor, the seats will not be so close together that comfort is sacrificed.

“The distance between the back of the seat and the knees behind them are very large so there’s not a lot of scraping by when someone leaves or enters an aisle,” Dr. Schloss said.

Fretti expects big things from the completion of the new lecture hall.

“There’s a lot of value to the academic and education properties that come with the lecture hall,” he said. “Higher learning is something that’s very important to me being a graduate from VSU and to honor and have the participation of Jerry and Kay Jennett is also special because they’re good friends of the community and personally good friends, so this is exciting because it is a new era in academic and educational infrastructure for the campus.

“I…understand how you have to continue with the basic needs of housing and water and sewer and roads and when you’re able to get to this the capital improvement for higher learning like a lecture hall its very exciting and rewarding that you get to do that, so I’m very pleased and hope that one day I’ll be able to lecture from one of these fine halls.”

Fretti also said that the City of Valdosta will now keep Jennett Hall in mind when planning future events.

According to Dr. Schloss, there are currently about 36 classes appropriate for the hall across most of the university’s colleges and departments. All classes held in the new building will be large sections, since the size of the class must match the room it is assigned to.

The building took about a year to complete, according to Dr. Phil Gunter, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

During the ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday, Dr. Gunter and Dr. Schloss pointed out that Jennett Hall is the university’s first academic building in a decade. The last academic building built on campus was the Bailey Science Center, completed in 2001.

The new lecture hall is named for Jerry and Kay Jennett, whom Dr. Schloss called “patrons of the arts and members of the Blazer faithful.”

Kay Jennett never thought she would see the day that she would have a building named for her.

“We’re beyond proud,” she said. “When you’re young, like the students are here, you have a vague idea of what your goals in life are. There are some things like going to the moon or…being president that are just fuzzy things in the back of your mind that you just have an idea that they will never happen. This building with our name on it is something that was never even on the charts. It’s beyond our dreams and we’re so very proud to be associated with it. And the fact that it fills a need in this growing university is even better.”

This new addition will not be the university’s last. The next project, Schloss said, will be to add more offices and labs to the Bailey Science Center.

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