A growing frustration

Ferris faculty reflect on mold buildup in Bishop Hall

Bishop Hall, which was originally constructed in 1967, has suffered water leakage and mold growth for many years. The building may face demolition as a result of the issues and the construction of a Virtual Learning Center. Photo by: Taylor Davis | Torch Photographer

Bishop Hall has a long history of water leakage and stubborn mold growth.

“It’s almost kind of like an unspoken knowledge around here. I’ve been here 21 years and probably for 15 of those they’ve talked about mold,” Ferris criminal justice professor Dr. Nancy Hogan said.

According to the Ferris website, Bishop was originally built as a residence hall in 1967. It currently accommodates several classrooms, the Tots Place Child Development Center and faculty offices of the College of Education and Human Services, including Hogan’s.

Hogan said that many of the offices had severe water problems caused by the air conditioning system, which resulted in mold testing.

“Several years ago, there was someone who was really allergic to mold, so then they asked us all to check, to take off our vents and look and see if we saw any mold. I had some mold in there, so I reported it, and they came back and said, ‘Well, spray it with Clorox,’” Hogan said.

In the past, mold issues were not the only type of problem plaguing the building.

“I recall an older evaluation of Bishop Hall, in which it was found to have higher than normal levels of CO2 in some rooms,” Ferris physical science professor Dr. Charles Bacon said. “Also, some time back, some pipes were enclosed that run along the ceiling because mold was growing on them.”

According to a report provided by Bacon, several faculty members became concerned about illness due to mold and asbestos in 2017, and workers wearing Hazmat suits were observed working in and around Bishop Hall.

Despite the persistent problems, it appears university administrators have attempted to combat the growth and prioritize the safety of faculty and students.

Ferris Human Resources Safety Coordinator Michael McKay said that there is currently not a mold problem in Bishop Hall to the best of his knowledge, but that appropriate actions were always taken when dealing with previous mold growth.

Any lingering troubles in the building may soon be eradicated altogether with the potential demolition of Bishop Hall. Ferris received planning authorization from the state of Michigan for a new Virtual Learning Center Project, Physical Plant Associate Vice President Michael Hughes said. If approved, Vandercook Hall would be renovated to accommodate the learning center, and Bishop Hall would be demolished.

“It will likely take us approximately 12 months to complete all the steps and start construction, and then another 12 to 24 months for the actual construction,” Hughes said.