With the formal dedication today of its nationally innovative Ron and Sherrie Lou Noel Studio for Academic Creativity, Eastern Kentucky University ushered in “a new era” in the life of John Grant Crabbe Library.
The Noel Studio embodies EKU’s Quality Enhancement Plan, which calls for the University to develop informed, critical and creative thinkers who communicate effectively. It is nationally unique in the way it integrates services, all in a technologically sophisticated environment, designed to enhance students’ writing, speaking and research skills and inspire individual and collaborative learning.
The space bears the name of Ron and Sherrie Lou Noel, of Union, Ky., long-time supporters of the University, whose $1 million-plus gift helped make the $2.8 million facility possible.
Addressing the Noels, seated in the front row of an overflow crowd, EKU Dean of Libraries Carrie Cooper said: “You have allowed us to realize a dream. This is a new era in the life of the library … a vivid example of how academic libraries are moving forward to serve students and the academic mission.”
So unique is the Noel Studio that Director Dr. Rusty Carpenter fields calls “daily” from colleges and universities nationwide wanting to know more. “Other universities have every reason to be envious of the space we’ve created here,” he said. “We’re on the cusp of something amazing here, and this ceremony marks only the beginning.”
The Noel Studio offers a variety of spaces that allow students to develop their communication skills through critical and creative thinking: invention spaces where ideas are born, presentation practice rooms, a presentation suite for delivering and refining oral communication, breakout spaces for spontaneous collaborative group work or creative work with manipulatives, conference space for networking with colleagues on campus and remotely along with practicing and capturing group dynamics, and a discovery classroom for orientations, guest speakers, conferences, and instruction sessions.
EKU President Doug Whitlock said the Noel Studio advances three goals of the University: student success, regional stewardship and implementation of the QEP.
“The undergraduate and graduate research that will be spawned in this space will touch our region and be an immeasurable asset to our students and to reaching the goals of this institution,” he added.
The Noel Studio also houses a permanent collection of artwork with a connection to EKU or the University’s primary service region by Kentucky artists.
Through a partnership with LexArts, the EKU Libraries sought out artists and has so far selected and placed 17 pieces of original art by artists from Richmond, Lexington, Berea, Columbia and Danville. The mediums of the artwork vary greatly and include acrylic, welded steel, glass, and dyed and felted wool fiber. One work, by EKU staff member Stacey Street, even features pieces of window pane glass from the 1935 John Grant Crabbe Library addition found during the renovation of the Grand Reading Room.