The new G. Ross Anderson Jr. Student Center will be a sprawling 80,000-square-foot complex, including dedicated spaces for dining, a banquet hall, a theater, and a wellness center. It also will be a gathering spot for AU's student body to fellowship and study. The building will be a visual representation of Anderson, the student-focused university committed to the development of character, servant leadership and cultural engagement.
The university has long wanted to upgrade the facilities currently used for dining and student activities. The primary dining halls in the Merritt Administration Building were built in 1911 and made to serve a different and much smaller student population. With only enough seating for 280 students at a time and enrollment now topping 2,900, the space is inadequate for the current bustling AU community. The size of our student body also means we have to split student organizations, activities, and offices up between the current student center and multiple buildings.
At the end of 2010, during the centennial celebration, the administration looked at what the university needed most to continue growing during the next 100 years and immediately identified that need to be a centralized student center. They started planning and raising the estimated $15.2 million needed to complete construction. Within two years, more than $9.8 million had been raised. Now, AU is asking you - alumnus, parent, friend, or leader - to help us meet the fundraising goal for the building.
Business management major Jennifer Price says the student center will mean an even stronger sense of community. Instead of being limited to residence halls and the library, she says a student center will create a stronger sense of community and create additional places to gather. "We are really in need a place for large student gatherings and campus events." Price said.
As a resident assistant, Price has watched Anderson change students' lives in incredible ways, but she envisions this student center adding a new dimension to the campus community by giving students a place to build lasting relationships and share life together.
A 5,000-square-foot dining hall will offer everything from traditional cafeteria food to gourmet options and made-to-order meals at food stations. The new dining hall will nourish students, faculty, staff and visitors as well as provide a place to mingle and relax. Right off of the dining hall will be a convertible banquet hall with seating for 300 people that splits into three sound-muffled rooms for smaller events and programs, such as lectures, university banquets and community forums. A 400-seat performance venue equipped with fly space for theater productions, orchestra performances and more is also in the Student Life Center blueprints.
Commuting and graduate students will finally have a place to further engage in campus life with the common areas. The space will be available for unwinding with friends in the game room, relaxing in the coffee shop with a classmate, doing some last-minute homework while charging up an iPad, or attending events hosted by one of more than 30 student organizations. The offices of Student Activities and Career Services will be in a central location and easily accessible to students.
The building will be named in honor of United States District Judge G. Ross Anderson Jr., who has been a driving force behind the growth and the quality of education provided at Anderson University. The judge is one of the best-known Andersonians in the community and has been intricately involved with the university for years.
A groundbreaking date is tentative, depending on the continued progress of the capital campaign, and construction on the new facility will take approximately 18 months. AU is seeking donations from the public for its fundraising campaign. For more information, contact Vice President for Institutional Advancement Dean Woods at (864) 231-2068.