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Cole Hall: Background information

January 17, 2012

Cole Hall Collaboratory Classroom

The Cole Hall Collaboratory is a first-of-its-kind classroom, loaded with more technology than a Silicon Valley boardroom.

With a whimsical design, the collaboratory is intended to be warm, inviting and high tech, giving students in all fields new ways to interact with their instructors and each other.

The collaboratory gives educators a whole new tool kit as well.

Features include:

  • Six separate learning pods, each seating eight students.
  • A 65-inch, high-definition digital touch screen for each pod, allowing students to interact both intellectually and physically with educational material, much in the same way users interact with touch-screen iPads.
  • Forty-eight computer workstations with Internet access, enabling online networking among students, plus a specialized instructor workstation for monitoring each student or group.
  • A larger screen at the front of classroom, where the professor can project and interact with classroom work from each pod.

The end result for students is an extraordinary educational setting, enhanced by technology that aims to nurture relationship-building, team cooperation and leadership skills.

The Anthropology Museum

The Anthropology Museum in Cole Hall provides modern exhibition space for the museum’s extensive collection of cultural artifacts and for traveling exhibits.

Some of the museum’s special features include:

  • Movable walls that can be used to create customized spaces for each exhibit.
  • Specialized rigging installed across the entire ceiling, allowing for the suspension of artifacts.
  • Track lighting that can be tailored to changing exhibits.
  • Low-iron glass display cases that make artifacts clearer for viewing.
  • A magnificent 10 ½ -foot-long glass display case cut into the museum’s exterior wall.
  • A specially equipped area for audio-visual presentations.
  • Humidity and temperature controls in the gallery and storage facility that protect and preserve collection pieces.

The Anthropology Museum holds more than 12,000 artifacts. It has regional strengths in Southeast Asia, New Guinea and North America and boasts a large collection of textiles, basketry and ceramics. Artifacts from Africa, Europe and South America are represented as well.

The museum conducts an active educational outreach program and plays a central role in the NIU graduate-level certificate program in museum studies.

Both graduate and undergraduate students gain opportunities to interact with cultural materials and to receive training in all phases of museum work, including activities related to preservation, research, interpretation and exhibition of cultural material.

Jameson Auditorium

The Jameson Auditorium reinvents the lecture hall learning experience and proves it really is possible to have the best of both worlds in one educational setting.

While the auditorium seats as many as 351 students, its articulated chairs pivot 360 degrees, providing students with the opportunity to collaborate in small, more personal groups.

The auditorium also retains all the features of a smart classroom—and then some. The room is equipped with Wi-Fi, designed to support 750 wireless devices and produce a rich, high-bandwidth user experience. At the front is a smart podium and projection system with the highest quality HD projector on campus. Three HDTV monitors are strategically placed to enhance viewing for students in back rows.

In addition, the wheelchair accessible auditorium boasts high-quality air, sound and lighting systems. A glass-enclosed conference room outside the auditorium provides space for professors to meet individually with students after class. And with an eye toward the future, modifications are in place for the potential additions of surround sound, as well as cameras and monitors for distance learning.

Spring 2012 Schedule of Courses for Cole Hall


Human Origins
Anthropology and Human Diversity
Introduction to Persuasion
Critical Interpretation of Film/Television
History of Film Before 1950
Computer Programming in C++
Principles of Microeconomics
Introduction to the Atmosphere
College Algebra
Fundamentals of Physics II: Electromagnetism
American Government and Politics

Cole Hall Collaboratory Classroom

Anthropology & Contemporary World Problems
The Middle School Child
Elementary Spanish I

Cole Hall Fact Sheet


NAMESAKE: Anthropologist Fay-Cooper Cole 1881-1961

ORIGINAL BUILDING NAME: Reavis-Watson Lecture Hall – The name was officially changed in 1974.


ORIGINAL COST: $700,000 (according to records of preliminary estimates)

DESCRIPTION: Cole Hall was originally built to house two lecture halls, each seating about 500 students. The 2011 renovation reconfigured the building, which now has three modern collaborative-learning areas: the Jameson Auditorium, seating 351 students; the high tech Cole Hall Collaboratory Classroom, accommodating 48 students; and The Anthropology Museum.

RENOVATION TIMELINE Design started in March 2010, the project was bid in December 2010 and construction started in February 2011. The renovation was substantially complete by December 2011.

RENOVATION COST: Just under $6 million

SOURCE OF FUNDING The State of Illinois, distributed through the Capital Development Board

Architect: Cordogan Clark & Associates Inc.
Engineer: Henneman Engineering Inc.
Coordinating Contractor: R.C. Wegman Construction Co.
Electrical Contractor: Associated Electrical Contractors
Mechanical Contractor: Commercial Mechanical Inc.
Ventilation Contractor: DeKalb Mechanical
Fire Protection: Optimal Fire Protection
Plumber: MO-ST Plumbing & Mechanical, LLC

BUILDING SQUARE FOOTAGE: The building originally had a total of about 35,000 square feet on two floors. With the vestibule addition made during the renovation, the square footage now totals about 36,600.
Auditorium – 4,700 square feet
Collaboratory – 2,100 square feet
Museum – 2,700 square feet

Cole Hall History

When Cole Hall first opened its doors in the summer of 1968, it was known as the Reavis-Watson Lecture Hall, built as part of a larger Reavis-Watson complex.

The lecture-hall building contained two 500-seat auditoriums and a lower level with space for anthropology and journalism.

In 1974, the building was renamed in honor of Fay-Cooper Cole, a University of Chicago professor who started U of C’s anthropology department and served as its first chair. He was a well-known authority on Southeast Asia (an area of special expertise at NIU) and is considered a founder of modern archaeology.

Cole also wrote popular works on evolution. In 1925, he served on a panel of scientists who testified on the theory of evolution during the landmark legal case in which high school science teacher John Scopes was accused of violating a Tennessee law prohibiting the teaching of evolution. Cole also visited DeKalb to lecture on at least one occasion during the late 1920s.

Within the Cole Hall facility, the large companion classrooms were renamed as well, with the north lecture hall becoming the Hugh Jameson Auditorium and the south lecture hall renamed the John H. Collins Auditorium.

Jameson came to Northern in 1930 when it was still known as Northern Illinois State Teachers College, teaching history courses until 1965. He served as head of the social science department for 18 of those years. Collins also taught history at NIU from 1961 to 1978.