There is no shortage of opportunities to get involved at St. Thomas. With more than 140 student clubs and organizations – and counting – in addition to the multitude of leadership opportunities, it isn’t difficult for students to find a group that suits their interests.
What is difficult, however, is meeting the logistical needs of so many groups with somewhat limited space. Murray-Herrick Campus Center has been the hub for gathering spaces for student groups since it was first built in 1960 and expanded in 1988. But since that time, the St. Thomas student population has not only grown but also has become more engaged – which is evident by the growing number of student groups. This has put a strain on the handful of meeting rooms available just down the hall from the “blue lagoon” in MHC.
The new Anderson Student Center will offer solutions for all the space and resource issues student groups are encountering. On the third floor, the Sunberg Student Leadership Center will offer not only physical space but also other resources to help foster collaboration among student organizations.
The Sunberg Student Leadership Center will include space for the yearbook staff, Undergraduate Student Government, Hana, STAR and the leadership reference room. In addition, a program resource room will have everything student club members need to make posters and event materials. The center also provides storage for clubs and organizations in two large rooms lined with locked cabinets. And, along the west hallway in the center, a singular purple door will lead into the “Tommie Closet.” This space will serve as a closet and dressing room for our mascot, Tommie, and will be equipped with a freezer for Tommie’s ice packs.
“We envision this to be a high-energy space,” said Vice President of Student Affairs Jane Canney. “Student groups no longer will have to scrape for meeting space on one part of campus, and access their resources for events and materials on another part of campus.”
The center will be furnished with a grouping of soft seating, 24 computers positioned two to four on a table, and several clusters of tables and chairs all purposefully placed to help promote collaboration and idea sharing among St. Thomas’ diverse student clubs and organizations.
The suite will be surrounded by glass walls that overlook the main corridor. This design was chosen to encourage an atmosphere of openness. According to Canney, “We want all students to feel welcomed into the space – they may be more inclined to join a club or organization if they see their friends taking part.”
Thirteen meeting rooms equipped with state-of-the-art technology will be available on the second and third floors, with student usage taking top priority. In addition, a hearth room adjacent to to a third floor meeting roomwill be available for small receptions and more intimate events.
The meeting rooms also will be home to the St. Thomas Board of Trustees committee meetings, putting trustees at the heart of what planners have envisioned to be a bustling student hub. “Our board members will be immersed in the student experience when they convene in the student center,” Canney said.
So how will this change the student leadership experience at St. Thomas? While the resonance of the new facility remains an unknown until opening day, the expectations are high.
“It’s hard to say exactly what will be different, but it certainly will have a huge impact,” Canney said. “Our student events will change, how they interact will change – and involvement and engagement on campus are sure to grow.”
For more information on getting involved with clubs and organizations, visit Student Life.
For an interactive map of the new Anderson Student Center’s floor plans, visit the Opening Doors Campaign.