At the end of March, the theology, psychology and philosophy departments, who recently moved out of Campion Hall due to renovations, were asked to vacate their offices again, but this time due to the presence of mold within the partitioning office walls.
During the renovation of Campion Hall, the theology, psychology and philosophy departments were moved into portable buildings, serving as both classrooms and offices on Welch Field. The departments moved into their temporary spaces in mid- January.
The Rev. James T. Bretzke, S.J., theology chair, said that Facilities Management asked the departments to evacuate immediately taking only essentials. Glenn Loomis, the assistant vice president of Facilities Management, reported that the mold was discovered after Environmental Safety sent a sample of one of the portables’ walls to an independent lab for analysis.
Within the same day of testing, Facilities Management contacted the departments who were using the portables as offices to vacate their offices. Fortunately for the psychology department, only one of their two portables tested positive for mold. However, the theology and philosophy departments found themselves temporarily homeless.
The test that confirmed the presence of mold was the last of three tests that were performed over a two-week period. Bretzke reported that he and the theology department program assistant had been having “bad sinus headaches” and other health related issues after spending extended amounts of time in their offices. Bretzke addressed his concerns to Facilities who performed an air quality test that came out negative. However, the headaches and health problems persisted, and Facilities performed another test on the moisture in the walls. This test also suggested that everything was fine.
Bretzke said that after the testing, Facilities told him that perhaps the headaches “were an allergic reaction from the trees outside or they were stress related and that [I] should work out more.” However, after the walls were peeled back revealing black mold within, and it was evident that Bretzke’s complaints were not psychosomatic.
Facilities immediately hired movers to store all of the office equipment in the Maraschi room by April 5.
The mold outbreak most likely resulted from the installation of wet lumber when partition walls were installed into the portables. Loomis reported that when the portable building company, Mobile Modular, built office walls into the portables they had left their lumber out in the rain and had not allowed the wood to dry before installation. Loomis also said that Mobile Modular would be charged with fixing the mold problem and with the cost of hiring movers for removing all the office equipment.
For now, most of the faculty from the theology and philosophy departments are still without personal office space. However, program information and faculty members can still be reached through the program assistants on the fourth floor of Gleeson Library or by email.