After six months of construction, it is hard not to notice the progress made on the Anderson Student Center. Yet Vice President of Student Affairs Jane Canney said the center is facing one setback: creating revenue.
“It’s not as easy to raise revenue for the Student Center compared with the Athletic Center,” Canney said. “It’s not like there are going to be memberships for the Student Center, so the goal is to create revenue in other ways.”
Canney said one idea includes renting out certain areas in the building.
“Since the building will have a bowling center, we can rent this space out for occasions like a kid’s birthday party on Saturday mornings, where St. Thomas can also cater,” Canney said.
Canney said there is not a set revenue amount the university needs to meet.
Greg Scharine, a business operations major and Undergraduate Student Government vice president for financial affairs, said he is concerned that this attempt to create revenue might take away from the idea of the building being for students.
“I am a little apprehensive as a student about renting out the bowling area for birthday parties and such,” Scharine said. “I would like to see this stay a college student center.”
Scharine has looked at the plans and said he could see how advertising from outside vendors targeting college students could help generate revenue for the student center.
“I would like to see more academic conferences held in the center or other national student groups such as AMA or Engineers for a Sustainable World or Students Today, Leaders Forever be able to rent out the space for regional conferences,” Scharine said.
“I could also foresee St. Thomas soliciting different high school competitions such as Speech, DECA, Mock Trial, to use the space and the catering in the Student Center,” he said. “This is not only generating revenue, it creates an event where St. Thomas and the admissions office can show perspective students what a wonderful place St. Thomas is.”
Mary Ann Ryan, executive director of Campus and Residence Life, said these types of opportunities to rent out space will be important during months when fewer students are on campus.
“During J-term, June, and part of July before summer orientation for our new students, there will be space that we will likely be able to promote and market to camps and conferences,” Ryan said. “This revenue will all support the Anderson Student Center, which is great.”
Canney also said naming opportunities, such as the Frank and Judy Sunberg Student Leadership Room, are another way the Student Center plans to generate some income.
“The multipurpose room is now officially named Woulfe Alumni Hall and can be rented out for events like wedding receptions,” Canney said. “There will be many naming opportunities in the student center, like booths in Scooter’s.”
Scharine also said wedding receptions will bring in revenue for the new student center.
“St. Thomas Chapel has a long waiting list for weddings to be held on campus,” Scharine said. “Now with a place to hold larger receptions than our current BEC facilities, hopefully we can see more revenue from renting the space and catering.”
The Anderson Student Center will feature two other major dining areas besides Scooter’s and several meeting rooms. The building will have offices, student organization rooms, an art gallery, beauty salon, and an emporium area that will sell St. Thomas merchandise.
Ryan said Murray-Herrick Center will continue to be used frequently.
“The plans haven’t been announced yet for what will happen with Murray-Herrick Center,” Ryan said. “There is a group of folks here on campus that is making those decisions and they have a process. But I’m sure, since there are many space needs on this campus, it will be put to good use.”
The Anderson Student Center is named after St. Thomas trustee Lee Anderson and his wife, Penny Anderson. Ryan and Scharine said it will be a great place for St. Thomas students to come together.
“This building is very student-focused,” Ryan said. “It’s open, there’s light, it’s airy. There’s plenty of space for gathering, meeting, and just interacting with friends and meeting new people.”
“The new student center is going to be a great place on campus,” Scharine said. “It will be the hub for all students to meet, eat and greet.”
The Anderson Student Center is scheduled to open in January 2012.
Cynthia Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.