New student center dedication previews coming additions

The center provides new dining options and lounge space.
Henry Karpiak, brother of late Walter D. Karpiak, speaks on behalf of his brother Thursday afternoon at the MU Student Center Dedication. The dedication honored MU graduate Walter D. Karpiak and other former Mizzou Alumni Association leaders.

In celebration of the opening of the MU Student Center, the Missouri Students Association sponsored various events to commemorate what the center already has to offer students and generate excitement for the next phase of construction Jan. 6.

On Friday, the dedication will involve a free barbecue, a time capsule dedication and ceremonies throughout the day. On Thursday, students were given the opportunity to tour the unopened wing of the new student center and dedicate the Walter Karpiak Room and Chamber Auditorium.

“Throughout these days students will get to see parts of the building that won’t be ready for public use until later,” Student and Auxiliary Services spokeswoman Michelle Froese said. “It’s a sneak peek of what will be coming in the future.”

The MU Student Center broke ground in 2006 after students voted to pass a referendum that raised student fees in order to pay for the building. Four years and $64 million later, the center has begun to influence students’ experiences, junior Susan Griffith said.

“It’s a massive improvement from Brady Commons,” Griffith said. “I mean, there’s no bowling, but it’s definitely student-inspired. I’m here every day.”

The new wing of the student center has been coined Mort’s, after comic strip artist Mort Walker donated his work to MU. Griffith, who attended Thursday’s open house, said the new area’s aura will increase student use of the center.

“It has a cool atmosphere,” Griffith said. “I missed having a hangout in the center of campus. If this doesn’t attract people, I don’t know what will.”

Froese said student input played a major role in the construction of the new student center.

“We are really excited about the new phase of the student center,” Froese said. “When we interviewed students about what they would like to see, we heard that they wanted a space with spirit and tradition, not something ultra-modern. Saying it’s a home away from home sounds really corny, but when you’re on campus, where else would you want to go?”

The large task of demolishing Brady Commons in order to build the new student center came with a comparable price tag. The center began its journey $8 million over budget, causing financial concerns when Student and Auxiliary Services refused to raise student tuition fees to pay for the additional cost. Different departments on campus, such as the Student Recreation Center, pitched in to balance the difference, Froese said.

Junior Kyle West found the end product of the new student center well worth the wait and the expense, he said.

“I come (to the student center) quite often because I work in the bookstore,” West said. “I think everything looks really nice, and I haven’t found anyone who disagrees. I think it was annoying while it was going on, but it’s totally worth it.”

Speakers at the dedication ceremony at 3 p.m. will include Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs and MSA President Tim Noce, among others. Afterwards, Mort Walker will conduct a book signing. Megan Gill, marketing manager for the project, said the dedication will bring together alumni and students.

“Mort’s is a cool, casual hangout with games and food,” Gill said. “We’re recreating ‘The Shack’ to bring back a piece of Mizzou history that has been lost for a generation since it burned down in the '80s. It was the prototypical campus hangout. It is so exciting to be dedicating the center on Homecoming when everyone is back. It’s cool bridging that gap.”

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