Mold brings Scobey Hall to its knees


When common mold struck Scobey Hall more than two years ago, the 76-year-old hall became perceived as even more outdated and obsolete.

This aged building has since been refurbished with new airflow systems to prevent mold growth, new windows to prevent leaks and dehumidifiers to cleanse and check the air quality. The plan, however, is to ditch Scobey Hall and move a number of the economics, sociology and psychology departments into a renovated Harding Hall soon.

For the time being, all of these efforts have paid off as Scobey Hall now has some of the highest quality of air, according to director of campus maintenance Jim Weiss.

“Some of the rooms were so cold the water would just condense right away [if the air conditioner was left on and the door was closed], so we ordered better water control systems,” Weiss said. “We always have it cleaned right away and they clean the space right away if [mold] shows up … the tests are sometimes coming back better than the air outside now.”

The authorization to redesign the interior of Harding Hall, which has a durable enough outside structure to keep, will be sent to the South Dakota Legislature to be approved, at which point the school can begin making real redesign plans, said Leslie Olive, director of campus planning. 

“Once we get some of those final decisions made we will be making those floor plans with the architects for the project, including exterior improvements and continue planning the full design stages and construction hopefully within a year,” Olive said. “[Harding] is still durable on the exterior, it is a brick building with a structural concrete frame that has shown little if any deterioration. It needs new windows but that is not a huge component to get rid of the building … the building has intrinsic value that makes the building worth keeping.”

While no actual planning has been done for the Harding Hall renovation, some ideas have been thrown around about potential features, including an elevator and an outdoor hall linking it to Daktronics Hall.


“We would like to link the building to Daktronics Hall so students can go to and from the buildings while staying inside … it would be at ground level,” Olive said. “It is a tertiary goal of the project that we really want to achieve, but it’s of course dependent on the funding and final layout of all the plans.”

All of these changes and future plans for Scobey Hall and Harding Hall were not in the original Impact 2018 campus plan, according to Olive, and has since been added on as edit-ins.

While faculty are looking forward to a mold-free environment, some are still uneasy about moving into a building that could have even more potential issues in the future.

“They always say be careful what you ask for. It depends where we’re moving and other factors. In the meantime we need to make Scobey as good as it can be,” said Cindee Stedman, budget and administration coordinator, who is also a three-year Scobey Hall resident. “I think people fear the unknown and if they don’t have the information about it they think it’s concerning … once we got dehumidifiers in here it improved the situation.”

While the growth was identified as only a common mold, which is not dangerous, some people are affected differently by it and are more sensitive to it, according to Weiss.

Some faculty were still unhappy when they found out about the common mold and believe the building still does not have sufficient airflow or quality.

“Last summer was really bad. The rates were significantly higher, the air quality was not good. One comment was it’s the same outside right now, but the wind blows outside and the sun shines, and in here it sits,” said Mary Emery, head of sociology. “There were two [dehumidifiers] on this floor, they were noisy and some faculty had to close their doors and chose to work at home more.”

Harding Hall, which is smaller than Scobey Hall, will not be able to house the same amount of faculty, which leads to the problem of relocating the departments accordingly.

This issue has yet to be resolved, but Olive said more than one full department should be able to fit in Harding Hall.

Another concern with disbanding Scobey Hall departments is the concern of breaking up whole departments into multiple buildings, Emery said.

“The alternative could be something like the Annex, which is old dorm rooms and it’s so far from campus students can’t find you, or breaking the department up and that would be really bad for us,” Emery said. “[But] we’re all looking for the day when we don’t have to be in the building anymore.”

Another potential issue with Scobey Hall is its impact on prospective students and how it would poorly represent the campus as a whole.

“I think mold can have an affect when bringing prospective students in there with their parents,” Emery said. “I think when you walk in a building and it smells old and musty you don’t want to come back into the building.”