Open letter circulates in Math Department detailing Yost demolition discontent


Shreyas Banerjee/The Observer

The lack of communication from the administration regarding the new location for the Department of Mathematics has left many professors worried about their ability to hold SI sessions and group meetings.

Shreyas Banerjee, Executive Editor

Since 1951, Yost Hall has been a mainstay on the campus of Case Western Reserve University, when it was constructed as a dormitory for the Case Institute of Technology. Later, it transitioned into the home of the Department of Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Statistics. Now, after many decades of service, it is being demolished to make way for the new $300 million Interdisciplinary Science and Education Building (ISEB), which will act as a new research center on the Case Quad with 200,000 square feet of new laboratory space. 

With demolition of Yost scheduled to begin this summer, the current residents of the hall have started to become uncertain as to what plans are regarding their relocation and whether the new spaces they are moving to will be adequate for their needs. Though the university announced the demolition of Yost in fall 2022, professors within the Department of Mathematics apparently have not been informed as to when they are required to move out, where exactly they will be moving to and whether their new space will be as convenient for students as the current location. This is especially important as the new ISEB will not have new classrooms or office space for the Department of Mathematics, meaning wherever the department moves may well be their permanent residence going forward even after construction is finished.

Due to this mounting frustration, an open letter calling on the administration to communicate with the department more effectively and address their concerns started circulating on April 17, amassing 81 signatures within 24 hours. Signatories included professors, graduate students and undergraduate students from across the department, all expressing concern as to the lack of guidance surrounding the move and how the quality of education provided by the department will subsequently be affected.

According to the letter, various plans have been shown to professors within the department as to where they will be relocating to, with the most recent one being to split the department between converted spaces in the Health Service Building on Adelbert Road and the fifth floor of the Sears Building. The spaces will reportedly be far smaller than the ones that the Department of Mathematics currently use, with the letter expressing concern that they will have “half the size of our current offices and there will not be space in either location for department meetings, seminars or tutoring.” With the splitting of the department and the lack of meeting spaces, the letter decries the lack of interaction between members of the department that will inevitably occur in the future.

“Without available meeting spaces, we would have no dedicated rooms for departmental tutoring and [supplemental instructor] sessions, no space for our weekly colloquia and seminars, and no space for informal meetings of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students,” the letter states. “For us to do our work, we need to interact with others. You would not have a Biology Department if you didn’t have space for labs. Our labs are the spaces where we meet with colleagues and students.”

Professors within the department who wished to stay anonymous to avoid retribution from the administration made clear that they weren’t defending Yost, but rather wanted to be part of the conversation surrounding the future of the department. The Department of Mathematics teaches among the most credit hours of any department, making professors feel justifiably central to CWRU’s education.

Sources within the administration have stated that there is a plan for the department’s relocation and are unsure as to why professors haven’t been made aware of them yet, especially as administrative offices within Yost have already been told of their moving plans. However it is likely that whatever space the Department of Mathematics takes up will be substantially smaller than their current space, at least in the short term. The fact that professors haven’t been informed yet indicates some sort of breakdown in communication within the College of Arts and Sciences, headed by Dean Joy Ward; the College has apparently been informed even though the department hasn’t been.

The letter with its 81 signatures was sent to Dean Ward on Tuesday April 18, with the letter writers currently awaiting a reply.