Secretary Ray LaHood ’71 tours newly-renovated Westlake Hall

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September 12, 2012

By Frank Radosevich II

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood ’71 toured the recently-renovated Westlake Hall earlier this month, meeting with faculty and students as he learned about the many upgrades to the college’s new home.

LaHood spent about two hours walking through the expanded building, which features four new floors linked with a glass atrium, a 100-seat auditorium, five counseling suites and 16 teaching spaces including science laboratories and classrooms.

“He’s been a longtime friend of our college and very support of us is so many ways,” said Dr. Joan Sattler, dean of the College of Education and Health Sciences, who helped lead his tour. “He has a keen interest, being a former teacher himself, in STEM education, teaching and healthcare.”

LaHood also stopped by the Institute for Principled Leadership to visit with his former district chief of staff Brad McMillan, who is the Institute’s executive director and also joined the tour of Westlake.

Dr. Sattler said LaHood reminisced about his days at Westlake as a student and was surprised by the technological advances present in classrooms. Classrooms in Westlake include smart boards, large interactive boards that users can manipulate like tablet computers, and other state-of-the-art technology, such as lecture capture technology.

He was also interested in learning how the new space will encourage collaborative, hands-on learning.  He had an opportunity to try out a smart board and some project stations in the science education lab led by science education faculty.

“He was impressed that our faculty and I had a hand in designing the building,” Dr. Sattler said. “The classrooms and labs are designed around a project-based approach to learning and collaboration. That’s why you see tables in all of our classrooms instead of rows of chairs, as well as group study and work areas throughout the building.”

Aside from graduating from the University, LaHood served on the advisory council for the College of Education and Health Sciences while a congressman in Illinois’ 18th Congressional District. He later sat on the University’s Board of Trustees.