UC Clermont celebrates new cutting-edge spaces: Sensory room first of its kind in nation
Half-million-dollar updates funded mostly by donors
The University of Cincinnati Clermont College celebrated the opening and renovation of three dynamic, mostly donor-funded campus spaces Oct.17. Total costs for the improvements were nearly $500,000.
Sensory and meditation rooms offer calm on campus
Students, faculty, staff, community members and donors first gathered to cut the ribbon for the college’s new sensory and meditation rooms, located in UC Clermont’s updated Accessibility Resources area.
The pioneering space — four years in the making — is the first fully renovated sensory room among higher education institutions in the United States. It offers an inclusive space for both neurodiverse and neurotypical students to find peace and regulation between classes.
“While other universities have made commendable efforts by retrofitting sensory spaces into existing facilities, our commitment to creating an optimal environment for sensory support and relaxation goes above and beyond,” said Meghann Littrell, director of accessibility resources at the UC regional campuses. “The overarching goal of these spaces is to foster well-being, relaxation and sensory enrichment. These are fundamental needs that can benefit people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.”
In both rooms, every element has been meticulously selected to serve a specific purpose, Littrell said. The sensory and meditation rooms feature fabric walls coated with soft, soothing colors to promote a grounding effect, diverse seating options and dimmable, color-changing lights that offer flexible atmospheres to meet individual needs. A centerpiece interactive touchscreen display, weighted blankets, putty and fidget toys offer additional sensory stimulation to aid in focus and calm.
Donors Dave and Amy Elberfeld shared their excitement and the importance of a self-regulation space for students on campus. The Elberfelds, who are longtime Batavia residents and supporters of the college, have a strong commitment to education — Dave served as a teacher and assistant principal at Goshen High School and as an adjunct instructor at UC Clermont in the 1990s. In his retirement, he worked with adolescents at the Clermont Recovery Center.
“The space is for everyone, but especially offers comfort and warmth for those with ADHD and anxiety,” Amy said. “It’s a place for these students to de-stress instead of a bathroom stall, as is often the case.”
New name honors library’s original director
The UC Clermont library is now the Frederick A. Marcotte Library, renamed for the college’s original librarian. Marcotte started the library in a classroom with one table, one chair and a handful of books when UC Clermont opened in 1972 and served as director through 2002.
Former student assistants and staff remembered Marcotte during the event, recalling his fun and innovative leadership during decades that saw libraries move from card catalogues to computerized systems. Marcotte also acted as college historian during his tenure and pioneered the library’s first website in the late 1990s. Chess sets located throughout the library honor Marcotte, who loved the game and passed away in 2013, leaving behind a legacy and endowment for the institution he served for three decades.
“Fred’s vision for making the library a hub for community — where all are welcome and a bit of noise is acceptable — lives on today,” Bauer said. “He made many significant contributions as library director and was a wonderful mentor and friend.”
The library has seen significant student-centered improvements over the last decade, including new lounge furniture, reconfigured space on the first floor and additional huddle rooms for student collaboration—all funded in part by donors, including the Elberfelds. The UC Clermont Learning Commons, offering peer and professional tutoring, recently moved to the library’s second floor.
Art Gallery renovations bring light to showcased work
The UC Clermont Art Gallery, which opened in 1993 and remains a center for culture within the community, installed new flooring, ceiling and white walls over existing brick to help displayed artwork “pop.” Improved lighting will also arrive this winter. The renovations to the gallery, which hosts several professional exhibits open to the public each year, were funded in part by an anonymous donor.
“Beauty, imagination, creativity and thoughtfulness are important,” said Peter Landgren, UC Foundation president and vice president for advancement at UC. “When someone comes in and sees (this updated space), they say, ‘How can I give back to something that’s important to me?’”
See more photos from the ribbon-cutting event.
Featured photo at top: UC Clermont's new meditation room. Photos/Danny Kidd
About UC Clermont
UC Clermont College is in Clermont County on 91 beautifully wooded acres in Batavia Township. The college is an accredited, open-access college offering more than 60 associate degrees, certificates and bachelor’s degrees. UC Clermont is part of the nationally recognized University of Cincinnati. For more information, call 513-556-5400 or visit www.ucclermont.edu.