East Carolina University cut the ribbon and officially opened the doors to the new Main Campus Student Center, which will serve as the “living room” for students for years to come.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Virginia Hardy, gave some opening remarks. Hardy said the Main Campus Student Center was part of a large project by ECU which included the center, the attached parking garage and the Health Sciences Campus Student Center which opened in May 2017.
Hardy said the 200,000 square foot building has a number of accommodations for students and staff, including meeting spaces, six dining options, a game room, a 14,000 square foot ballroom with a capacity of 1,900 people, a black box theater and the Pirate Vision screen.
However, according to a previous university statement, the dining options will most likely open by the end of January.
“Typically, a student center on any campus is the living room of any campus,” Hardy said. “And that’s no different here.”
Hardy said she expects this center to transform the culture of ECU’s campus, as a student center is often the first place incoming freshmen will tour. She said this center will influence prospective Pirate students to enroll and increase numbers on campus.
According to Hardy, the now completed project is an ambitious feature on campus. She said it shows ECU is committed to a “dynamic” student life on campus.
“The building will further expand the reach and the impact of our classroom and our investment in learning,” Hardy said.
ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton said during the ribbon cutting ceremony this was a historic day for Pirate Nation with the new center opening.
“This center is among the finest in the nation, if not the best,” Staton said.
Staton said many generations of students would be able to take advantage of the building, similar to how Mendenhall served students for 45 years. He said it will be a place where students congregate and study.
Staton said the student center will serve as a place of inspiration, where students can work together to plan for their futures.
“Businesses will be conceived and planned,” Staton said. “Maybe even some proposals will be made. Even weddings will occur, you’ve heard about that great ballroom.”
Staton said he wants ECU students to enjoy the facilities of a major national university. He said the day served as a major step for the university.
Staton said he agreed with Hardy and added the student center would be a deciding factor for students on the fence about what school to go to. He said ECU is in a special position right now.
“There is no university in the country in a better position to take the next big step and this today is yet another wonderful example of that,” Staton said.
Jordan Koonts, president of the Student Government Association (SGA), said the thing he is most excited about for the student center is the opportunity it represents. He said the building serves as a centralized location for everything the students and the nearly 500 campus organizations need.
“From the beautiful Ledonia Wright Cultural Center and its student art gallery, to the Greek Life Suite and the Jesse R. Peel LGBTQ Resource Center, this building offers a place for every Pirate to call home,” Koonts said. “So I guess in a sense, you could say this student center is exactly what it’s name is: student-centered.”
Koonts said the SGA, which is one of the many organizations relocating to the student center, is here to support all students and is one of many resources offered in the building.
Several students were spotted today taking advantage of the numerous new things offered by the center. MacLaine Birch, a sophomore studying elementary education, said she was thankful for the opening.
“It’s nice to have a place where we can go that’s updated and appeals more to our student body,” said Birch.
The center was definitely worth the wait to Birch and she is anxiously anticipating the various restaurants to open.
Birch said the studying nooks and rooms are very inviting and leave many students feeling satisfied at the availability and ease with which they can now study.
“I’m never going to Joyner again now that all of this is available it feels so much more open and accessible, way less stuffy than Joyner can be at times,” said Birch.