UCC Residence Hall Closes After Electrical Failure


Photo by Abram Tabor

The UCC is on the east side of UCM’s Warrensburg campus and formerly housed the SHIPs for Art & Photography, Criminal Justice and Music.

Written by Abram Tabor, Reporter

  On July 18, the power went out at the University Conference Center residence hall because of an electrical transformer failure. Since then, the building has remained closed, and it appears uncertain if it will ever reopen.

  After a quick investigation, the university contacted Evergy, an electric services company, to further assess the damage and possibly make repairs.

  “The thought was that it was the transformer that feeds the building had shot, maybe a squirrel or that kind of thing,” Brenda Moeder, senior director of University Housing, said. “So, they took a closer look at the building and found out that it was actually the transformer within the building. The exterior feeds the building, the interior transformer takes that power and puts it into manageable units to make the building operate. That unit had a catastrophic failure.”

  The average expectancy for an industrial transformer is 20 years, while the one in the UCC was originally built in 1963. With the age of the transformer being beyond traditional repair, the university considered the costs of replacing it.

  “It was between $175,000 to $200,000,” Tim Castilaw, the associate vice president of Facilities Planning and Operations, said. “Another aspect of it was the time that it would take to actually get the transformer. Because of the age of the building and the age of the transformer, they’re not readily available. So, it was going to take almost 30 days to get a transformer here, if not longer.”

  Taking into account the time frame and costs, it was determined that the building would not be ready for the fall 2021 semester. Additionally, the building was completely without power during a humid, Missouri summer. To avoid any damage, the university made the decision to move out the beds, chairs and other furniture from the building to storage.

  “We had probably a hundred people,” Custodial Services Manager Debora Williams said. “We actually formed a line from the top floor, and then there was people in the stairwell. Everybody just handed them down, and it went into the truck and then off they went.” 

  Even after the hall had been cleared of furniture, there still remained the problem of the 176 students who were assigned to live there this fall. 

  “I think that we were well prepared, given all our challenges we faced last year with COVID,” Jay Hicks, director of Business Operations & Residential Leadership, said. “We reassigned everyone within about 48 hours. We were able to act quickly and get it done, and done right. I think we did our best under the circumstances.”

  Special Housing Interest Programs in the UCC were kept together, as were suitemates and roommates. Students paying for a single room also kept their status. SHIPs were moved into South Ellis and students who had applied for a single room were reassigned to South Todd.

  “I’m not going to be persnickety and say it ruined my whole mood, or be dramatic or anything, but now I’m on a total opposite side of campus, and it’s weird,” junior graphic design major Xavier Langston said.

  Langston was reassigned to South Todd along with other single room students.

  “I chose UCC because I was like, ‘Okay, I know this part of campus and all the classes I need to take are on this part of campus.’” Langston said. “I’m not going to complain because they got me in a single room, and they made sure I had the same suitemate. So that’s cool, but it’s a lot more inconvenient, not as convenient as Ellis was.”