Southeastern celebrates grand opening of Student Union

Thursday, April 14, 2016Student Union grand opening
by: Rene Abadie

GRAND OPENING CELEBRATED – Wielding an over-sized pair of scissors, Southeastern Louisiana University President John L. Crain, center right, and former Student Government President Aron Walker, center left, along with various university officials and invitees, cut a ribbon marking the official opening of Southeastern’s renovated and expanded War Memorial Student Union.

     HAMMOND – With an over-sized pair of scissors in hand, Southeastern Louisiana University President John L. Crain cut a wide ribbon to mark the official opening of the university’s newly renovated and expanded War Memorial Student Union.
     Students, university officials, alumni and guests gathered in the union’s mall area for the ribbon-cutting, the primary event associated with the week-long celebration.
     “This is a great day for Southeastern,” said Crain, who described the facility as transformative for the campus.
     “I have been through a fair number of building projects on campus during my 15 years in administration, and I can honestly say this is the first project that has completely exceeded my expectations,” he said. “This facility is a tremendous asset for our university, our students and our community.”
     Crain recognized the partners who helped make the facility possible, including the Student Government Association for their efforts in 2006 in initiating a self-assessed fee to fund the venture; former Southeastern President Randy Moffett and members of the administration; food service provider Aramark; Follett Bookstore; architects Holly and Smith of Hammond for their design; and Lincoln Builders of Ruston, general contractors for the facility.
     The Student Union was originally built at its current location in 1965 and underwent considerable renovation and expansion in 1983. Work on the current project began in 2012 as part of a $32 million three-phase, student-funded initiative. The project saw approximately 90,000 square feet of existing space renovated and the addition of 90,000 square feet of new construction.
     “No longer is the Student Union a pass through from class, but it has become the place to meet, hang out and eat,” said current SGA President Alexis Quackenbush. “All of our student services, such as the health and counseling services, bookstore, and others are now located in one place. And our food service was recently named the best of any college in Louisiana and among the top 100 in the nation.”
     Former SGA President Aron Walker, now business operations manager for KIPP Schools in New Orleans, was one of the primary movers to start the funding of the project in 2006.
     “It was a process that required educating our students,” he said. “Our former students noted that it was their responsibility to initiate this challenge, even though most would never see the end results. We met with the Greeks and other student groups and organized a ‘get out the vote’ campaign to pass the proposal. It’s gratifying to see the end result in this beautiful facility.”
     In addition to the student services, the union includes the Lion’s Den Food Court, which offers a variety of fast food options; the Mane Dish, dining facility offering freshly cooked and prepared foods; a large ballroom that can be sized to accommodate a variety of functions; and offices for the vice president for student affairs, Student Government Association, Career Services, Lions Roar newspaper, and other operations.

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