Newly renovated University Center back open for business

WHITEWATER ­ The heart of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater campus has
a beat once again with the opening of the new James R. Connor University

³The campus community has been without its central gathering place for the
last year-and-a-half, and I commend the students for their adjustments
during this time,² said Steve Summers, deputy assistant chancellor of
Student Affairs. ³Having the UC open again brings their gathering place

The $20.4 million project has brought an expanded art gallery, a convenience
store, a coffee shop, a new student involvement complex, a recreation
center, an auditorium, a ballroom, study spaces, state-of-the-art meeting
rooms and an additional 6,000 square feet.

³I¹m excited about the positive impact having the UC back on-line is going
to have,² said Bob Barry, director of the University Center. ³Earlier last
semester, we were giving some student groups tours of the new building. Even
though the building was far from completed, the students could see its
potential and were excited about it.²

The University Center serves the needs of the students, but in many ways it
wasn¹t prior to the year-and-a-half renovation. For example, more than half
of the student organizations had to hold meetings in academic buildings
because of the lack of large meeting rooms in the UC. It also became clear
that the infrastructure and meeting room technology needed major upgrades.

A building committee was formed in 2003 to make a recommendation for action.
In April 2004, the recommendation was made to remove the 1958 portion of the
building, remodel the majority of the 1963 addition and parts of the 1988
addition and to construct a new space connecting the east and west portions
of the building. The plan to renovate the UC was approved in May 2004.
Students agreed to contribute $135 for the next 20 years through student
fees to pay for the majority of the renovations. The rest of the money was
raised through private donations.

Students said goodbye to the old building at the ³UC Blast² celebration May
5, 2006, and construction began June 2006.

³People can¹t wait to see what the new building looks like inside,² said Kim
Adams, assistant to the director of the University Center. ³I guess I go
back to the senses ­ what they¹ll see, hear, taste and smell. There will be
great sounds again, a great hum going on again in the center of campus, the
taste of great foods, the smell of coffee and the feeling of excitement from
student energy.²

Donors were recognized and honored Saturday, Jan. 19 at the UC. Student
organization presidents were given tours Wednesday, Jan. 23, and the grand
opening for students was Saturday, Jan. 26, which was complete with bowling,
billiards, karaoke, movies, a murder mystery dinner theater and a casino
room. The Connor Project Dedication is Friday, Feb. 1.