UIW’s Student Center: The Heart and Soul of Student Engagement

UIW’s Student Center: The Heart and Soul of Student Engagement

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The University of the Incarnate Word’s mission emphasizes development of the whole student, promoting a community of enlightened citizens. To fulfill its mission effectively, UIW is rebuilding and expanding the Student Center, at the heart of the campus. The existing building of 48,000 square feet will be replaced with one that is triple the current size, with new but “timeless” architectural features to create an inviting space with abundant natural light.

UIW has over 90 student organizations, all of whom meet regularly and participate in community service projects. More groups are forming each year. This growth in student organizations reflects the overall enrollment growth of the university. In Fall 2015, UIW enrolled over 10,800 students, making UIW the third-largest private university in Texas.

The Marian Hall Student Center, at the hub of UIW’s campus, is the university’s main gathering place where student organizations meet and a popular spot for events such as comedy night or a rally against underage drinking. Because of UIW’s enrollment growth, student organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to access the Student Center. Originally built in 1960 when enrollment averaged 1,500 students, the Marian Hall Student Center has become inadequate in serving UIW’s co-curricular needs in the 21st century.

The new Student Engagement Center (SEC) will be both a student union, where co-curricular activities are concentrated, and a services center, where representatives from UIW’s business and campus life offices will provide a “one-stop shop” for students’ needs. The SEC will enhance the students’ experience for recruitment, development and success through graduation by providing quality facilities for collaborative programs and services. These areas will be expanded:

  • Engagement Access –The Student Engagement Center will offer service kiosks and virtual access for key student services. Offices for Campus Life, Veterans Affairs, and Health and Counseling also will be located in the new SEC.
  • Student Meeting Spaces – New offices, meeting rooms and community spaces will be designated for student organizations such as the Campus Activities Board, Student Government Association, and the Greek sororities and fraternities. The Student Engagement Center will include conference rooms to conduct meetings and business. Spaces such as lounges and hallway seating areas are scattered throughout the building to encourage informal gatherings, as students study, talk, relax and socialize, creating the sense that they are at the heart of the UIW campus. The SEC also may be used as a meeting space for community organizations that offer educational benefits.
  • Dining and Extracurricular Activities – The SEC will include a larger dining facility with diverse, branded options, a ballroom/theatre for special formal events and movies, and retail options such as a pub/game room, convenience store and an information kiosk about off-campus transportation and housing. Outdoor dining also will be available.
  • Book Store and Spirit Shop – UIW’s main bookstore will move from its current location at the edge of the campus to the new Student Engagement Center at the center of the campus.

Student services offices have also been carefully and purposely designed to meet not only the needs of our student body, but also to expand existing services. For example, the Veterans Affairs office has been designed to include a veterans’ lounge, a safe space for veterans and family members to visit and support one another. The Health Services office has expanded to include three examination rooms, a pharmacy, a dental exam room, and a room to accommodate health training and education programs.

Cost for constructing the new Student Engagement Center is $34.5 million. Multiple naming opportunities are available in this new facility – the heart and soul of student engagement at the center of the UIW campus.