Plans finalized for Marvin Center fifth floor

GW selected last week the five offices that will be relocated to the Marvin Center fifth floor this summer, after months of conversation about how to best use the campus hub.

The $2 million services center will feature about 80 individual office spaces and 20 meeting rooms for the five departments the University believes students interact with the most: Center for Student Engagement, the Career Center, the Center for Civic Engagement, the Office for Study Abroad and the Center for Undergraduate Fellowships and Research.

“The biggest criteria was, ‘What did students need to interact with to take advantage of interesting opportunities, or to get something so they don’t have to run around from place to place to place?’ There’s a single place where they can go and talk to career counselors and internships and service learning,” Provost Steven Lerman said.

Chris Deering, project manager and political science professor, said there was a “high degree of consent” between the stakeholders and the administration.

This is the team’s first major decision since planning started this fall for the student services center. Deering took charge of the project in early January to ensure it “proceeds at a reasonable pace,” Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Planning Forrest Maltzman said at the time.

Student organizations will have access to the rooms when departments are not using the collaborative space, Deering said. Each room will feature double doors that can be locked from the administrative side. When the offices are closed, student organizations can access the space from the outside reception area.

Robert Hallworth, director of the Office for Study Abroad, said his office needed to move because it had “outgrown” its townhouse near 20th and H streets.

“With the move to the Marvin Center, we solve some of our space problems and at the same time have the welcome opportunity to work in closer proximity with colleagues who will help us create new synergies in our future endeavors,” Hallworth said.

The offices originally in the talks but not chosen for the move include the International Services Office, which will remain in leased space at 2033 K Street, and the Center for Alcohol and Drug Education, housed in Thurston Hall.

Director of the International Services Office Greg Leonard said his staff wanted a location closer to the center of campus but understands the space crunch. Leonard’s team advises GW’s 2,100 international students and helps them transition to the University.

“We’re going to continue on as we can for a few years and hopefully move to the main section of campus soon,” Leonard said.

Deering agreed that the office “will be very high on the list to move if we can fit it later on.”

In January, the University announced that campus organization space would not be included in the fifth floor plans, which has riled student leaders and pushed them to take their case to the Board of Trustees.

The Center for Student Engagement’s shift from the fourth floor to the fifth will add 33 percent more student space to the fourth floor, Dylan Pyne, chair of the Marvin Center Governing Board said.

Pyne and Student Association President John Richardson are lobbying the University to fund a revamp of existing space for charter organizations: the SA, the Marvin Center Governing Board, the Resident Hall Association and Class Council. Other student groups will continue to vie for space by application.

In the reshuffling, the previously separate Greek Life Office will move into shared space with the CSE, although the design is still being finalized. In past years, its large collaborative space has allowed three Greek letter umbrella organizations – the Inter-fraternity Council, the Panhellenic Association and the Multicultural Greek Council – to meet informally with staff.

Last week, the three organizations created a petition to keep the collaborative and storage space in the Greek Life Office. As of March 4, close to 400 students had signed, including leaders from multiple chapters on campus. Director of Greek Life Christina Witkowicki did not return multiple requests for comment.

Pyne, who is in charge of doling out office space on the fourth floor to student organizations, said he is encouraging Greek organizations to apply for individual offices next year so the chapters can continue to share workspace.

“Looking at the size and level of programming Greeks have, I imagine that when we do review all applications and make decisions on who get space, they would be at the top of list,” Pyne said.

Lianna Havel and Cory Weinberg contributed to this report

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