BU Student Center


For years, students living on East Campus have been keenly aware of the distance to amenities on West Campus — things like FitRec and the StuVi twins, as well as Central Campus niceties like the George Sherman Union. Easterners, it seemed, had no social center of gravity.

Boston University Student Center
Boston University Student Center

The University is planning to build a six-story, 106,000-square-foot structure housing state-of-the-art dining services and a new home for Career Services and Educational Resource Center (ERC). Construction of the estimated $50 million East Campus Center for Student Services is slated to begin this winter, with an opening date set for fall 2012.

“It’s a great way to pull the campus together,” says Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore.

Laurie Pohl, vice president for enrollment and student affairs, says West Campus, the George Sherman Union, and the future East Campus center will create a synergy of “fitness for the body, fitness for the soul, and fitness for the mind.”

Preliminary plans for the center emerged from the University’s strategic planning process in 2007. Elmore and Pohl discussed how BU could better connect existing career and educational resource services, housed in separate (and relatively tired and obscure) locations.

At the same time, Dining Services knew that East Campus dining options paled in comparison to others. When they ran the numbers, says Pohl, they found that renovating the dining areas in Shelton Hall, Myles Standish Hall, and the Towers would be more expensive than building a new facility. So officials decided to combine the three major services under one roof, and locate that roof at 100 Bay State Road, on the corner of Deerfield Street, a space that is now a parking lot.

Gary Nicksa, vice president of operations, says the architects worked hard to design a building that would suit the two different neighborhoods that the center will bridge — one historic, the other modern. The result is a structure whose Bay State Road side will be brick and stand three stories tall, while the Kenmore side will have a modern façade and be six stories tall.

The center’s first two floors will be dedicated to dining facilities, with a basement level cash-and-carry café. Much like West Campus dining, food will be prepared in front of students. Elmore says that while the shift of dining halls from dorms to a central location will inconvenience some students, he thinks most of them will find the new facility a “good responsive space.

Dormitory dining halls will probably be converted to study lounges and common rooms.

The center’s middle floors will be home to first and second-year advising services for the College of Arts & Sciences, and the fifth and sixth floors will house the Educational Resource Center, now on the GSU’s fourth floor, and Career Services, now at 19 Deerfield St. Their current locations will likely become additional space for student groups and offices.

Pohl says the move is designed to fulfill a growing need. The ERC, which offers tutoring, language group discussions, and writing and reading workshops, expanded from 47 full-time and student employees in fall 2004 to 262 by fall 2008, and the University plans to continue to boost staff at the two centers to meet demand. Both centers are open to undergraduate and graduate students from all schools and colleges.

Officials hope the new facility, where students can find help choosing a major, receive career counseling, and meet potential employers during job fairs, will draw students early in their college careers.

Ideally, says Pohl, the two centers work in tandem. Students who use ERC tutors often find themselves struggling in their majors. As well as helping them academically, tutors can refer students to Career Services to explore other fields that fit their talents and interests.

“We’re thinking about the student more holistically,” says Denise Mooney, associate vice president for enrollment and student affairs and associate dean of students. “All areas help to support students in their success here, and that’s going to pay off for them in the future.”

This article first appeared in BU Today on April 28, 2010. Leslie Friday can be reached at lfriday@bu.edu; follow her on Twitter @lesliefriday.

View all posts