Thu. Feb 25th, 2021

The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

UMW unveils new University Center

3 min read
By ISATA SESAY Thousands of new and returning students saw the University Center for the first time this semester, after two years of construction.

The new University Center opened in late August. | Alex Sakes/The Blue & Gray Press


Thousands of new and returning students saw the University Center for the first time this semester, after two years of construction.

According to Rick Pearce, the vice president for Administration and Finance, construction began in the Spring of 2013 after Chandler Hall was removed.

“We are doing punch list items and finishing work on the grounds,” said Pearce on the University Center’s construction. “It is hard to say when all of that will be completed, but most will be done by the end of September.” 

When construction is completed, the center will include a retail bookstore, a large ballroom as well as student offices and meeting spaces.

The center is located in the middle of campus, adjacent to Ball Circle and College Avenue. 

In addition, the UC is the new home to the James Farmer Multicultural Center, the Center for Honor, Leadership and Service, commuter’s lounge and student dining.

What are the benefits for having everything in one place?

According to Golda Eldridge, director of leadership, it makes it easier for students to find what they need under one building.

From my perspective in Student Affairs, it centralizes activities [Student Activities, Multicultural Center and the Center for Honor, Leadership and Service], improving our collaboration and giving students one stop shopping for programming,” Eldridge said.

The UC also has many of our old dining options under one roof on the fourth floor, after closing Seacobeck at the end of the previous semester and limiting dining that was previously offered by the Nest.

New to campus, however, is the Mexican grill, Qdoba, and smoothie station, Jamba Juice, on the second floor food court.

The UC has a budget to bring these accommodations to life. 

“The budget we are working with is $56.2 million and I expect the final cost to be just under that,” Pearce said. 

Junior sociology major Brittany Greene believes the University Center is a beautiful building, and that it is located in a convenient area of the campus. However, for Greene, dining does not last long enough to accommodate students who eat later in the evening.

“The restaurants are not open late for students that have night classes,” Greene said.

Similarly, Freshman Emnet Adaye believes the dining hall could use more variety of food and that there needs to be more employees working in the food court and dining room. Despite this, she likes the setup in the UC and having the restaurants in one area.

Katie Ingebretsen, senior classics major, also feels that the dining room needs to improve, particularly with the hours and food choices. She also wished that students had a greater say in the options for the dining room.

I dislike the food options, the hours it is open, the food options on the first floor, and the way the whole thing was constructed without asking students what we wanted in a dining hall,” Ingebretsen said.

Despite her views on the dining hall, she likes that the UC gives students a place to wait in between classes.

“There is some seating for students to hang out…I live in the apartments, and I don’t always feel like going back between classes,” Ingebretsen said.

Though the UC has numerous benefits, the first week did not go by without a few hiccups.  The fire alarms in the UC had gone off three times between Monday, Aug. 24 and Wednesday, Aug. 26.

All three of the alarms went off between late-morning and lunchtime, in some instances after students used meal swipes to purchase food and beverages. It is not clear what caused the fire alarms to go off.

According to an email sent out to students by Juliette Landphair, vice president for student affairs, a plan is in place to compensate students for lost meal swipes, though it may take a few weeks to go into effect.

Editor’s note: Quotes regarding the interview with Rick Pearce were not representative of his original message or his correspondence. We deeply apologize for the error and have included his quotes directly in the story. – Emily Hollingsworth, News Editor.

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