by RONIC NGAMBWE
The Center for Career and Professional Development will find a new home in Lee Hall beginning next semester, pending changes as a result of COVID-19.
According to the center’s new director, Paul Binkley, this change is a reflection of the president’s vision to make student development a priority. Rose Maddox, who works at the Career Center as employer relations manager, said that although staff only started “meeting with architects over the last six months or so,” Tim O’Donnell, associate provost for Academic Engagement and Student Success, “has been pushing for it for several years as [we] are outgrowing our current space.”
The goal is to expand options available to students by not only increasing the physical size of the Career Center but its staffing as well. The plan is to make the center more “student focused” by having pre-professional staff who can advise students on the variety of pre-professional career paths the university offers. In this regard, the Career Center will focus on student advising that will better help prepare students for the world of work.
The center will occupy a third of the space the bookstore currently has. This is not expected to affect the bookstore because of its significant online presence. Binkley said that initially, there was an idea to have the bookstore move to the Career Center’s current location in the UC, “but the space is just too small.”
This is one reason for the move. In order to focus on student development as a priority, the space had to be bigger. Maddox explained the layout and how it will be designed to be student friendly.
“This space will have a front lobby area with lots of open seating,” she said. “Students can use this space to work on their resumes, applications and other career-related endeavors. The back part of the space will consist of a small conference room, coffee bar, and offices for the Career Coaches. They will hold one-on-one meetings with students to discuss their career plans.”
The hope is that with this layout, students will feel welcomed into the Career Center. The goal is to have “an open and inviting space for students to study if they want,” Binkley said.
Another reason for the move is visibility. Binkley said that the UC does not meet this goal because it is not necessarily frequented by all students.
“How many upperclassmen come to the UC?” he asked.
According to Binkley, having the Career Center in Lee Hall is advantageous because it will be located alongside other offices that are essential to students such as Financial Aid, Student Accounts, the Registrar and Academic Services.
When the Career Center initially moves, its current space will remain in use for potential employers.
“It’s going to become a more hospitable space for employers,” Binkley said, adding that it will also become “alumni-focused.”
Employers will be able to hold interviews and mingle during special events like the job and internship fair. Initially, these changes were set to take place in the fall of 2020, but it is uncertain how the plans will be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We are unsure at this time how the virus will affect plans. It will all depend on how long the CDC recommends that people social distance and how long the university is impacted by it,”
Binkley added that if these plans were delayed, it would probably not be so much because of the virus directly but more so because the funds may have to be reallocated to coronavirus relief efforts.
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Honors Lounge would be moving into the Career Center’s current location. It has since been corrected.