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Feb. 16, 2012 Volume 33, No. 20

Growth of student center leads to renovation, more programs

Student Center

SUCCESS: Students Kheyra Halane, left, and Asif Lakhani talk with student worker Denita McCarthy at the remodeled front desk of the Academic Retention Services office in the Student Success Center. Rob Hill photo


Stage two renovation scheduled for completion in March

After months of drilling, hammering and reconfiguring space, the Student Success Center now has more room for student programs.

But that’s not all. Stage two, begun in December and scheduled for completion in March, will add even more space to the center.

The 25,000-square-foot facility houses Academic Retention Services, the Learning Center, Academic Advising and Exploration, the MU Career Center and the Fellowship Office — all departments with the overlapping goal of advising students.

The center, which opened in 2001 in the remodeled Missouri Bookstore on Lowry Mall, was the brainchild of Charles Schroeder, then vice chancellor for student affairs. He envisioned bringing key services and programs to the heart of campus to ensure students’ academic success.

But the center became a kind of victim of its success. As its popularity grew, it became cramped and renovations were needed.

Advisory consolidation

Last summer’s renovation, which cost $485,000, paid for by campus reserve funds, created and redesigned offices and workspaces on the main leve and extended the mezzanine into an enclosed full story. The renovations added more than 4,000 square feet of useable space.

Academic Advising and Exploration services, which advises students on academic direction, gained four offices. “It’s more efficient for students, as they’re coming to one place now for their advising needs,” said Rachael Orr, a senior academic adviser.

The Learning Center, an academic assistance service, gained office space for two full-time staffers and increased the number of rooms for working with students with disabilities, said Director Phil Deming.

Academic Retention Services, an outreach and advisement service for underappreciated minorities, gained private offices for its full-time staff, a front desk and a workspace for the paraprofessional staff. The renovation allowed the department to have its full staff at the Student Success Center; previously, the department was split between the center and Clark Hall.

 “These new renovations show the university’s investment in students, and it makes our job easier,” said Gary Cotton, a senior journalism major and head of ARS’s promotions and marketing team.

The Fellowships Office, which assists students in identifying and applying for national and international competitive fellowships, moved to the center from Lowry Hall.

Tim Parshall, the office’s director, said the new space offers more comfort and privacy. Moving to the success center, he said, enabled him to establish closer working relationships with academic advisers and the career center.

New project underway

When construction is complete in March inside the former McDonald’s structure on Lowry Mall, the Student Success Center will gain an additional 2,650 square feet of useable space. 

Estimated cost is $165,000, also paid for by campus reserve funds.

The fast-food eatery’s dining room is being converted into an open area with tables and chairs able to accommodate 60 people. The area will be connected to the basement of the center so students inside can access the space from within.

The Learning Center will particularly benefit from the McDonald’s renovation, since its tutoring space was at full capacity during peak times.

Deming said the expansion allows the Learning Center to continue to respond to the demands with the increase in enrollment MU has experienced.