UW-Stout News Story

Student center living up to its name; grand opening Wednesday

April 16, 2012

The renovated Memorial Student Center at University of Wisconsin-Stout has been open for about three months and already has left lasting impressions.

“I was amazed at how quickly the students made the Memorial Student Center their home again,” said Krista Proksch, student center involvement coordinator. “Within hours of opening it seemed as though the lounge space was filled with students who were so happy to be back in their building, which is now better than ever.

“It’s refreshing to see the students enjoying every bit of space and knowing that their money was well spent,” Proksch said.

A grand opening celebration will be held beginning at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. The event includes presentations by Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen; Neal Peterson, president of the Stout Student Association; Shirley Klebesadel, director of Physical Plant; and Darrin Witucki, MSC director. The emcee will be Phil Lyons, interim vice chancellor of Administrative and Student Life Services.

The event will include a ribbon cutting, reception, entertainment and guided tours. The center is at 302 10th Ave. E.

The $19 million project included more and better lounge and meeting space in the 26-year-old facility, as well as new and innovative dining options. The bookstore was relocated to the front of the building. The project was paid for by student fees; no tax dollars were involved.

“The most surprising aspect of the new MSC is the many lounge areas available to everyone,”
said Karen Lund, interim assistant director of Operations and Services. “With the remodeling, the building has been opened up. It’s amazing to see students with their laptops scattered underneath the staircase, professors having coffee with students and staff members sitting in comfortable chairs looking out onto the outside amphitheater. The MSC is alive.”

"I am impressed with the flexibility of the new space and the number of students taking advantage of all the MSC has to offer,” Peterson said.

“When discussing designs for the new MSC, I never realized how much of an impact the building’s redesign would have on student life,” said Shannon Maanum, legislative affairs director for the Stout Student Association. “In the few short months the MSC has been open, it’s become clear that the building has become more than just a shelter from the rain on a walk to class, a place for organizations to meet, a cafeteria, or a study lounge; it has become a new home away from home for many students and will continue to be that place for generations of students to come.”

A focus on sustainability was central to the renovation. Nearly half the new carpet is recycled. Ceramic tile in the bathrooms is 99 percent recycled. The wood floor in the Terrace Café is 100 percent reclaimed lumber. Table tops, wall and ceiling treatments in first-floor booths and benches throughout are made with wood from the former bowling lanes. Restroom partitions and countertops are 100 percent recycled. Energy-efficient lights and hand-dryers were used throughout. Even the waste recycling stations were made from recycled milk cartons.

To see a related video, go to http://tinyurl.com/7999mdl. To see a student center slideshow, go to http://tinyurl.com/78dpmhu.

“Perhaps the most pleasant surprise has been the inability to find a place to sit in one of the several lounge areas located throughout the building,” said center Assistant Director Mary McManus. “From the early morning until the end of the evening, the lounges are fully occupied by students. The student center is definitely lived in.”

The center, closed for a little more than a year, was a hit from the first day it reopened.

“On Monday, Jan. 23 — the first day of the semester — the students just started using the spaces, like ducks to water, and their comfort level and usage of all the areas and aspects of the building was truly surprising. There was no transition phase,” Witucki said.

“Every night at 11:45 p.m. we need to use our new building intercom to announce, ‘Good evening, your Memorial Student Center closes in 15 minutes. We open again at 6:30 a.m. Thank you, good night, and we’ll see you tomorrow.’ ”

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