By DAVID CONCEPCION
President Hurley and the Board of Visitors gathered Thursday, Sept. 17 to celebrate and dedicate the opening of the University Center, the newly constructed $43.4 million building, on Ball Circle.
Other guests attended the ceremony, which included students, UMW faculty and staff, former members of the Board of Visitors and elected officials, which included the Fredericksburg City Council and State Senator Bryce Reeves. The family of Edith Logan Ott, deceased alum of UMW, also attended the event. The clock located at the top of the University Center was dedicated in her memory.
Juliette Landphair, vice president for student affairs, initiated the ceremony. During her presentation, Landphair said the university was founded with a “democratic purpose,” saying that the university was started “to provide higher education to women during a time when most americans did not think that women should not go to college.” Landphair also cited the university opening to black women and to men for the first time, no longer being an all-women’s college, in the 1950s.
“So here we are 2015 with this building behind me, and before you which will tell its own story,” Landphair said. “Its story continues to tell this important institutional theme, of democratic purpose.”
Landphair’s definition of “democratic purpose” is one that is inclusive to everyone in the world, signifying that the building is to help the community.
“The building is welcome to all members of the community.” Landphair said, and later said that the University Center is open to “Fredericksburg, the state of Virginia, the United States, and the rest of the world.”
President Hurley, who was introduced by Landphair, referenced the many construction projects he oversaw, but also gave credit to the Board of Visitors.
“During the time I’ve served as president at UMW, several projects were completed that have been strategically designed to enhance the quality of the student experience of Mary Washington, both academic arena and the co-curricular part of student life,” Hurley said.
Bryce Reeves, a State Senator who is running for reelection this year in the Virginia State Senate 17th district, which houses UMW, gave praise for the building.
“It’s about time for the student body to congregate and circle around,” Reeves said. “It’s going to be an epicenter to build that Mary Washington brand.”
Though many disagree, such as Kevin Tertocha, senior English major, who said, “I know a lot of people who were upset when they decided they were going to demolish Chandler to build this University Center, I guess a lot of them didn’t understand why they needed to do that so there was kind of a negative feeling when they opened the UC.”
The University Center faced many issues when it first opened. Most notably, the fire alarms went off the first week, which received significant criticism from UMW students.
Unusual dining hall hours were also an important issue, although dining services responded by extending the hours of the dining hall.
Complaints also covered the fact that during the construction of the University Center, students who majored in Business and Psychology felt abandoned as Chandler Hall, which housed the College of Business and the psychology department, was bulldozed to make way for the new building. Although, Woodard Center and Mercer Hall are being renovated to house the College of Business and psychology department, respectively.
Freshman Mackenzie Guenther thought the building was nice, but complained about the requirement that freshmen were limited in the use of their meal swipes to the dining hall.
“It would have been nice if we had the option or were told ahead of time that we can only use the swipes at the dining hall instead of anywhere else.” Gunther said “There’s nothing we can do about it, we just have to ride about the storm now.”
It seems that while the past was praised at the ceremony, the future is questionable by students.