The second and third floor additions to the A. K. Hinds University Center opened this month. These new additions nearly double the size of the University Center and are expected to help bring a more centralized feeling to the WCU campus. “We want the University to have a center,” says Julie Steele, director of the University Center. “Giving a place for students to socialize, relax, study or check their email without having to be at their dorm is the best way to achieve this.”
The most popular part of the new UC is the full-size movie theater that has the capabilities to play several types of video media and film reels. It will screen movies each night on the weekends that are already out of regular theaters but have not yet hit video stores. The theater will also be used for special events such as comedians and small musical and theatrical performances. “The theater will draw students out for something they can really enjoy,” says Jeff Hues, assistant director of Operations, “with real theater sound and qualities.” There will even be a concessions booth for popcorn and drinks.
Across the third-floor atrium from the theater will be student offices. All of Western’s on-campus organizations were given a chance to bid on the offices earlier this year but a limited number of rooms were allotted. The Multi-cultural Center and the Women’s Center will make their new homes among these offices. Between the theater and office spaces is the large entrance that conveniently opens to the parking lot behind the UC. “Once the campus is converted to walking there will be less car traffic and more pedestrians, so the UC can be utilized as a central gathering place,” says Steele.
The second floor will house the post office, where students can pick up and send out mail. The post office will include a mailroom that will be used by students who reside on campus, replacing the current mailroom in Scott Hall. Across from the post office will be the University Store where students and visitors will be able to purchase merchandise such as officially licensed apparel, notebooks and school supplies. However, the University Store will not be opening with the UC renovations; its construction will take a few more months to complete.
The popularity of the Java City coffee shop in Hunter Library sparked the opening of a second location on the second floor of the UC addition. The shop will offer an assortment of caffeinated and non-caffeinated beverages, pastries and snacks.
Across from the Java City is a multi-purpose room, something that Western has needed for a while. “This will be the first reasonably-sized conference room with capabilities like LCD display projectors and a divider wall for simultaneous events,” says Steele. “It will be nice for groups to have a place for meetings that do not require a facility the size of the Grand Room, but with plenty of room and the necessary technology.”
The UC additions are all a part of the ongoing campus-wide renovation and construction campaign. Other projects include the Greek Village housing complex, new arts and communications buildings, and the rerouting of the main road through campus. The entire campus-wide expansion project is expected to be finished within the next 10 years.