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Saint Mary’s anticipates opening of new Student Center

Nicole Zook | Thursday, January 20, 2005

For months, Saint Mary’s students have been wondering what exactly lies beyond the brick walls of the new Student Center.They have seen the driveway paved, brass fittings and a clock put outside, and have even been able to lift the sheet separating the dining hall and the new lobby to get a quick look at the unfinished building.According to facilities director John DeLee, they will find out soon.”It’s scheduled for a February completion,” DeLee said. “It should all be done by the 25th of February, and right now we’re planning to move Student Activities, etc. [in] over break week.”The building’s three levels will hold offices, meeting rooms and conference rooms for Student Activities as well as several other student groups such as student government, the Blue Mantle and a work area for The Observer. Space is also set aside for Campus Ministry, the Office of Multicultural Affairs and a new women’s resource center to supplement the current LeMans Hall space.Student activities director Georgeanna Rosenbush said the building will have everything students need.”I’ve been involved since the beginning with students and faculty and other administrators to basically come up with what we need,” she said. “We took a campus inventory for what we need, came up with a strategic plan.”Rosenbush, who said the plan for a student center began about five years ago, called the inventory a “wish list for students.”The list includes a brand new bookstore location, two student lounges, a First Source Bank branch, a convenience store and a theater.The new center will also contain a cyber café, where students will have wireless Internet access. The café will feature grab-and-go style meals and an outdoor patio facing LeMans.”We’re hoping to get Adirondack chairs and things like that so people can sit outside and enjoy the weather,” Rosenbush said. “We’re very excited – it’s going to be a nice facility.”The building will also accommodate two groups the Haggar Student Center did not – off-campus students and the president of the College.The President’s Dining Room will have space for dining with about 60 visiting dignitaries and guests, a preparation area for catering, and a terrace. “We’ll still have the west wing to have bigger events and dinners in there as well,” Rosenbush said. “We’ll have an off-campus kitchen area that will be a full kitchen for their lunch.”Senior Robin Blume said she was especially pleased Saint Mary’s was aiding students who choose not to live in the dorms.”I’m thrilled that something on this campus is for off-campus students too,” she said.Other students compared the current construction to the building of the Noble Family Dining Hall, actually the first part of a two-phase plan including the Student Center.”I thought there was a bigger need for a new academic hall before a new dining hall was built,” senior Candace Schmidt said. “However, I think the student center was needed to fulfill SMC student, faculty, and staff needs.”DeLee expects the Student Center to be well used and said students will not be disappointed when the facility finally opens after break.”There’s not going to be any part of it [students] won’t like,” she saidRosenbush said the move from Haggar to the new building would help Saint Mary’s feel more like a campus.”I think the students are going to be very excited about it,” she said. “I think it’s also going to be a place that they’re going to take a lot of ownership for, because it is called ‘Student Center.'”Rosenbush emphasized the Haggar College Center remains an important part of the College’s history, and it will still be used for various functions. However, Rosenbush also said she feels the new Student Center will become a place of union for the campus and its future students.”Haggar is a wonderful gift of the Haggar family, and for 22 years it gave the students a spot, gave it a beginning,” Rosenbush said. “This is where the students are going. I see that as a tribute to the leadership on our campus and the impact they have had on our campus.”