A $7 million design overhaul has transformed the dated University Center with a new purpose.
Now known as the Student Success Center, the renaming captures the building’s goal of grouping student services in one central location.
Student Union architect Gould Evans applied many of the same contemporary design features to the Student Success Center.
Gone are the asbestos and the green and red color scheme. A wall of windows replaces the building’s blank north façade, and features throughout the building emphasize functionality, convenience and environmental sustainability.
Large flat-screen monitors and touch screen displays located throughout the building add new, user-friendly technology.
An open layout creates synergy between different services housed in the building.
The building’s three floors house a combination new and existing programs.
The second floor is also home to two new concepts: UMKC Central and the University College.
UMKC Central, the brainchild of Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Mel Tyler, fulfills the purpose of a one-stop
shop where students will work with administrative employees cross-trained in Admissions, Registration and Records, Financial Aid and Scholarships and the Cashier’s office.
Here, students can enroll, register for classes, check the status of financial aid and view their bill, avoiding multiple lines in the Administrative Center.
Tyler said UMKC Central uses a ticketing system allowing students to log concerns electronically, enabling employees to track how long it takes to resolve student concerns.
The University College, spearheaded by Provost Gail Hackett, is designed to guide students with undeclared or undecided majors toward an academic program and career path that suits their goals.
Tyler said the UCollege should help UMKC meet its target retention and graduation rates. The goal is to increase the retention rate from 74 to 85 percent, and to increase the graduation rate from 48 to 55 percent, within the next four years.
“We want to get students to take 30 hours a year so they can graduate on time,” Tyler said. “We aren’t requiring them to be full-time, but we’re going to make it hard not to be.”
Second floor renovations also include a remodeling of Pierson Auditorium and the Chancellor’s Dining Room, which has been partitioned into three multipurpose classrooms.
A Welcome Center located on the first floor next to the cafeteria entrance offers golf cart tours of the Volker campus to incoming and prospective students.
The basement includes a new east-facing entrance which improves access to the Fine Arts Building and Miller Nichols Library.
Green features have been incorporated throughout the building, although LEED certification through the U.S. Green Building Council wasn’t pursued for the project due to its extensive requirements.
The old windows and HVAC system from the 1950s have been replaced with energy efficient thermal windows and zoned heating and cooling with frequency drives designed to optimize efficiency of the HVAC system. Water fountains throughout the building contain bottle dispensers.
“What we’re doing is sustainable,” said Greg Silkman, Manager of Planning and Construction for Campus Facilities Management.
The building’s programs offer extended hours designed to better fit students’ schedules. The University College and UMKC Central are open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday.
The International Student Affairs and Writing Center programs have relocated to the SSC. Their former houses are being considered for reuse, potentially by a Greek organization.
The Student Academic Support Services (SASS) building, a repurposed military barracks from World War II, will be demolished to make way for the Miller Nichols Library classroom wing.