SECD celebrates renovations at Ricketts Computer Lab

The Ricketts Computer Lab in the Barkley Memorial Center has transformed into a more collaborative space for the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders after being remodeled and upgraded over the summer.

The computer lab was originally dedicated Nov. 14, 1996, in honor of Gladys and Lewis Ricketts. Born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, Gladys was raised in McCook, Nebraska, and earned her bachelor’s degree in education from UNL in 1933. At the time of its original dedication, the classroom was equipped with workstations containing network access and sound input/output, and capable of running both Macintosh and Windows programs.

Thanks to a continued relationship with the Ricketts family, including Gladys’ daughter, Dona Hurst, the Ricketts Computer Lab received several updates over the summer. The front of the room features a large display and instructor’s monitor facing two rows of tables holding 12 new computers for classroom instruction. In the back of the room, there are three round tables and two wall-mounted TV monitors that allow students to connect their own devices for group collaboration.

In addition to the technology updates, the Ricketts Computer Lab received new carpet, paint and furniture, and the wall adjacent to the hallway was replaced with windows. The two doors to the room now also have large windows, which are engraved with a special design to recognize Gladys Ricketts’ contributions to make the space possible.

“The Ricketts Computer Lab has provided our students with access to computer technology and specialized software for many years, and these resources will continue to be available,” Sherri Jones, chair of the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders, said. “The renovated lab now also provides students with flexible space for collaboration, and the option to use their own technology in addition to the technology available in the room.”

After the classroom was originally dedicated, SECD had a history of holding a birthday party each year for Gladys Ricketts, who died at the age of 97 in 2008. In honor of her contributions and to celebrate the newly updated room, the department held a birthday party Sept. 12 featuring two of Gladys' favorite things - chocolate cake and homegrown flowers from SECD faculty. Hurst and three additional generations of her family were also present for the celebration.