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November 1, 2012

Dr. Nick J. BrunoA message to ULM faculty and staff from ULM President Nick J. Bruno

Dear Colleagues,

ULM’s Museum of Natural History is an important resource, and we value it greatly. ULM has supported the museum by providing more than 25,000 square feet of space, utilities, maintenance and security.  In addition, ULM's administration, faculty, staff, and many volunteers have contributed significantly to the museum’s success. 

In March 2012, university leaders worked with the museum to design renovations for the first two floors of Hanna Hall. This new location would have provided approximately 40,000 square feet of space, a significant increase compared to the museum’s current allocation of 25,000 square feet in Sandel Hall.  

The June 2012 fire in George T. Walker Hall significantly affected our plans for relocating the museum. This fire effectively closed Walker Hall for two years and required the university to relocate all departments from Walker Hall to Hanna, Strauss, Stubbs, Sugar, Brown, and the Library.

During the renovation of Walker Hall, the second floor of Hanna is being used for academic administration; the first floor of Hanna is slated to be used as the temporary home of the bookstore and faculty offices.  The urgency in finding a new location for the museum is even more critical as Sandel Hall will soon undergo a major, multi-million dollar renovation that will support improved student recruitment and retention.

During the past several weeks, the administration met several times with the Museum of Natural History Advisory Committee, along with other community and faculty supporters of the museum. A number of scenarios were discussed, including moving the entire museum off campus.

Dr. Tom Sasek, associate professor of biology and Director of the ULM Museum of Natural History, communicated that the museum advisory committee would prefer the public display and research collections to remain on campus; he indicated that a display space of at least 2,500 square feet would suffice.

Ensuing discussions between the museum advisory committee and the ULM administration resulted in an agreement to move the research collections to the first floor of Brown Stadium (formerly occupied by Graphic Services), where the collections will be housed in a temperature controlled environment and will continue to be available to research scientists.

Dr. Sasek then proposed to create a public display area on the first floor of Hanna Hall. ULM’s administration reviewed this proposal and decided to allocate approximately 3,400 square feet, all of which will be accessible to ULM students, local grade school students, and community members.

The museum’s move to Brown and Hanna will occur over the coming months.

I want to express my appreciation to our university and community leaders who, in the spirit of collegiality, have worked with us to create a resolution for the museum we all treasure. I know we all look forward to the museum’s permanent home in Hanna Hall.

Thank you.

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President