New Anderson Student Center could struggle creating revenue

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.

<p>After six months of construction, Anderson Student Center sees steady progress. (Cynthia Johnson/TommieMedia)</p>
After six months of construction, Anderson Student Center sees steady progress. (Cynthia Johnson/TommieMedia)

“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.”

Scharine agreed.

“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

5 Replies to “New Anderson Student Center could struggle creating revenue”

  1. Yes it really would be a shame to waste such a great money-making opportunity. After all, if it doesn’t generate revenue, what would be the point in building something? The enrichment of campus life? A resource for students? What a ridiculous thing to expect from a University…

  2. Naming for dollars seems to be the way to go. This is much better than renting out areas that students could be using.

  3. Not to rain on the parade, but finding renters for facilities is not as easy as the article assumes. While HOBY, the KCs, and similar groups have the resources and funding to afford paying rent (and should pay more than cost), many groups who need space, and whom we should really try to have on campus, are not so well-endowed. Regional history day competition (which we hosted some years ago) had no budget for facility rental. That was entirely recruiting, and a good-will gesture. Similarly, regional academic conferences often have no revenue source beyond registration fees, and if those are too high, too few come. Selling food, be it Scooters or catering, and UST stuff are the most consistent, though limited, sources for extra revenues.

  4. It seems like someone who wants a booth named after them at Scooters could do so with a reasonably priced Sharpie…

  5. So… wait. Just a moment. I might very well be reading this wrong, so… to clarify:

    Is the administration saying that they built this glorious new building, with its many sexy but basically unnecessary campus accessories, without knowing how to pay for its added maintenance costs on a year-to-year basis? Because that cost is going straight to our tuition otherwise.

    If, on the other hand, the administration is just trying to find a way to make a little more money off a building that already pays for itself, more power to ’em, if they can pull it off. We rent out lots of space throughout campus, and (as my long wrangle with Scheduling earlier this fall proved), UST *does* do the right thing and prioritize the *heck* out of student activities with its facilities. I mean, I couldn’t even schedule an outside event in OEC on a Saturday morning *over J-term* until all class schedule requests were in, and then faculty/admin/staff events were considered, and then I had to wait in line behind every other request submitted by a club or organization, and only after *all those* are served did Scheduling start looking at purely external events.

    So I’m not worried. Scheduling is a pretty awesome department. (Go Brian Woitte!)

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