UW-Stout News Story

UW-Stout students to get modern student center

January 19, 2012

Students, faculty and staff may wonder if they are in the right place when the Memorial Student Center on the University of Wisconsin-Stout campus reopens Monday.

Sure, it’s the same building in the same location. But it sure has changed a lot inside and out.

For the last year, workers have been renovating the center, which sits at the heart of the UW-Stout campus. The 26-year-old building structurally was sound, but everyone agreed it needed to be updated and opened up with natural light.

“The limitations of the MSC before the renovation were very apparent,” said Neal Peterson, president of the Stout Student Association, which approved of a student fee increase to pay for the renovation (no taxpayer dollars were involved in the project).

“There was not enough lounge space, the meeting rooms did not really accommodate student organizations well, and there was no natural light that was let into the building. It is safe to say the building was not very appealing for students.”

Now the $19 million project is completed, and Peterson said the student center “offers a lot more” to the student body. This includes an involvement center that houses student organizations, he said, which is “out front and is at the center of attention.”

More than 10,000 square feet of lounge space is scattered throughout the building with a variety of seating, Peterson said, and the meeting spaces have been improved. Finally, the staircases to the second floor have been brought into the open.

“The building is more friendly,” he said.

“Our student body should be commended for taking the lead on this project and making it happen,” said Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen. “We have taken a building that badly needed updating and made it into a fantastic facility that will serve our campus for many years to come.”

Besides more and better lounge and meeting space, the renovated student center features new and innovative dining options. The lower level has Brew Devils, with coffee, smoothies and ice cream; Fire & Stone Pizzeria, with pizza baked in a woodstone hearth oven; Blue Devil Grill, with fast-food sandwiches and sides; and Buns & Bowls, with subs and salads.

The upper level features the Fireside Café, with five food venues to choose from: Mexican, gourmet sandwiches, comfort foods, cooked-to-order foods, and sandwich and salad favorites from the former Heritage Café in the student center.

Another major change in the building is the relocation of the bookstore to the front of the building in the space formerly occupied in part by the bowling alley. However, the wood from the bowling alley was used in a variety of ways in the renovated student center. The Service Center also was relocated to a more convenient location on the first floor.

The upper level is dominated by the Great Hall and the Crystal Ballrooms, which have been upgraded to improve their functionality and appeal.

The outside of the building also has been improved, through the use of glass and other aesthetic options. An outdoor amphitheater has been added to the back of the building, facing Jarvis Hall, for performances and other gatherings.

“The reopening of the Memorial Student Center is really the culmination of nearly eight years of studying, researching, planning, designing and constructing,” said Darrin Witucki, student center director. “It was a long and sometimes difficult process, but I believe the campus community will see remarkable, if not transformational results.”

Witucki said the renovation process “had students involved in every step of the way, with majority membership on all committees.”

The vote of the Student Senate in October 2008 to fund the renovation, he concluded, “was a decision to protect the investment of past students, pay forward an investment to future students and provide a truly great facility to current students. I think the reopening of the student center means a lot to the campus community and the broader Menomonie community.”

A grand opening celebration is being planned for April 18.

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