The St. Thomas Board of Trustees met Thursday to set a date for the opening of the Anderson Student Center and to discuss the university’s strategic direction.
Jane Canney, vice president of student affairs, said the board discussed many university issues and events at the meeting, but the main focus was the new student center.
“We are going to open that on Jan. 17,” she said. “Right now it is on time in terms of the schedule for the construction, and it is on budget. We are excited about that.”
Board of Trustees members, along with two student liaisons, seniors Greg Scharine and Njenga Kariuki, toured the facility.
Scharine described the difference between the photos students have seen and seeing the facility firsthand.
“The pictures don’t do it justice. It’s everything you wanted and more, and that’s not just a sales pitch,” he said. “You walk in, and you know it’s going to be cool. … You don’t realize how large the space is.”
Kariuki said he thinks the student center will be a place everyone will enjoy.
“When it comes to initiatives, especially with the Board of Trustees and the campus, a whole lot of people agree or disagree,” he said. “But I think the one thing about the student center is no one will disagree, when you walk in there, everyone will love it.”
Scharine said he spoke with Lee and Penny Anderson, the donors of the new student center and athletic and recreation complex, about their hopes for the new facility.
“They said they wanted a space for students to feel like this is theirs. This is the pinnacle of St. Thomas; this is the home base; this is where you feel at home. And they have that in the student center,” he said.
Kariuki said he enjoyed seeing the trustees’ reactions to the new building.
“I think another thing that was a surprise was to see their faces,” he said. “They are the ones who deal with the financing and supporting all of this and planning it, but even they were as surprised and shocked as we were.”
Kariuki complimented the beautiful new building and its unique design.
“It does an incredible job of encompassing the beauty of our campus and the surrounding areas as well with the windows,” he said.
Canney said events will be held in honor of the new student center’s opening, when the trustees return to campus in the spring.
“We will have a dedication with the trustees and a full day of celebration with students in May,” she said.
The board also discussed tuition, financial aid, fundraising and the university’s current accomplishments and future goals.
Doug Hennes, vice president of university and government relations, said the board will continue its discussion at the next meeting in February and will begin making decisions at the meeting in May.
“Right now we are engaged in a lot of conversation and discussion about where we are, where we’ve been, and where we might go in the future,” he said.
Madeline Carlson can be reached at email@example.com.