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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

New one-stop center opens in Usdan

Published: January 14, 2005
Section: News

This spring brings the first major upgrade of student services space in two and a half years with the opening of the Phase 1 Renovation of the Usdan Student Center. The $2 million project is one of several phases of an $18 million overall plan to upgrade facilities in Usdan and Kutz Hall.

Currently encompassing new offices for Residence Life and Student Financial Services and upgrades to the Hiatt Career Center, the new space was created to serve as a one-stop student services center, according to Senior Vice President of Students and Enrollment Jean Eddy.

A project description published by the Office of Capital Projects states that the one-stop center will provide students with convenient, single-point access to a full range of student administrative services. Other student services offices will remain in Kutz until gift funding allows the second phase of the renovation to proceed.

Momentum for the project arose from discussion around the Universitys Integrated Planning Process, which began in Fall 2003. We have been having many meetings over the last year and a half talking about how better to offer advising to students, said Eddy. Usually when you have a problem or you have a concern you want to address, its never just about one thing. By centralizing services, Eddy hopes to banish the practice of students being bounced from office to office.

According to Eddy, students continue to be dissatisfied with current advising services. While Eddy claims there are no plans to add new staff positions within the advising departments, recent hiring decisions in Undergraduate Academic Affairs indicate a move to more specific subject-area academic advising rather then the traditional class dean approach.

The showcase of the one-stop center is a central reception area where students can go to get answers to questions and perform common tasks. The reception area will be outfitted with reading materials, reference information and computer terminals for accessing SAGE. Im hoping that this is a place that students will see as their own and will want to spend time in, said Eddy.

The International Lounge was relocated to the first floor of Usdan to make way for the one-stop reception area. A new Information Center was also constructed in the area formerly occupied by Java City, which moved into the Usdan Cafe prior to the start of construction.

Eddy hopes that the new layout will encourage cooperation between previously separate departments, especially the Hiatt Career Center. We are going to try to do programming that will pull students in, she said.

Future plans for the space include the expansion of Hiatt and renovation of Usdan lobby. Earlier architectural plans obtained by the Hoot and not available online indicate that a new department, possibly named Student Academic Services (SAS), will be occupying the space opposite of Student Financial Services. SAS is listed as being composed of the International Students & Scholars Office, Student Enrichment Services, the Registrar, and Undergraduate Academic Affairs, all of which are currently located in Kutz.

Not included in published plans is secured storage space in the Usdan sub-basement, an addition proposed by the Student Union to compensate for student groups that lost storage and office space in the move to the Shapiro Campus Center. I really hope we get to that, said Eddy, so that students are not marginalized. But as it stands now, until we can continue the renovation everyone is in a holding pattern.

No timeline is set for the second phase of the project. We know what we need to do, the plans are already done, it is simply a matter of getting the appropriate gift, said Eddy. Future phases of the project include improvements to dining areas and the game room.

An opening reception for the one-stop space is planned for Thurs., Jan. 27 at 2:00pm.