Second plan for Marvin fifth floor discussed

Several departments that interact the most with students may be relocated to the Marvin Center fifth floor by next summer, in line with long-term University efforts to centralize services under one roof.

In addition to student organization offices, the Career Center, Office for Study Abroad, International Services Office, the Center for Undergraduate Fellowships and Research and the Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service have all been identified as potential additions to the space.

Assistant Vice President for Events and Venues Michael Peller said the project is still in the early stages, and the University’s recommendations for the space will not be completed until December.

Construction is slated to start in the spring of 2012 and to be finished in time for Colonial Inauguration that summer.

“There are a variety of units that provide services to students that are being considered to move into that space. We’re not at a point to define 100 percent,” Peller said.

Dean of Students Peter Konwerski said the University’s vision is to create a “one-stop-shop” for students, “where you can ask 30 questions in one place.”

He said the model would resemble Colonial Central – the joint offices for Student Financial Assistance, the Registrar and GWorld Offices – which was restructured in 2007.

A limited number of services will fit in the area now occupied by the Hippodrome and the University is currently looking at which “pieces of the puzzle” would best fit the space, Konwerski said.

Associate Dean of Students Tim Miller said over the next few months, the University will reach out to branches of student life and academic services to talk about what parts of “the student experience” need to be centralized.

“We want to bring the concepts to different branches and see what emerges,” Miller said.

Miller would like the fifth floor to “become a destination” for students, offering them the opportunity to interact with other offices and services in one location.

He hopes student organizations will adopt this open model of space for their office structures as well.

Miller, who is also the executive director of the Center for Student Engagement, said it’s important for student groups to collaborate on events: “The best way to do that, is to take the walls down and create an incubator of ideas.”

Dylan Pyne, a senior and chair of the Marvin Center Governing Board, is leading a committee tasked with creating recommendations for the likely relocation of student organization offices on the fifth floor.

The group was asked to discuss moving the 60 offices on the fourth floor to a collaborative, multi-use office on the fifth floor. In its past two meetings, committee members were largely supportive of a shared workspace. Pyne said it will host town-hall style meetings for all campus organizations later this month.

Student input will play a large role in shaping the final plan, Konwerski said.

“The University’s not going to go in and do something the students aren’t going to want,” he said.

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