Center Brings Student Services Together
The Center for Student Services unites support and resource programs—and serves up fancy mac and cheese.
By Jessica Ullian
Photos by Kalman Zabarsky and Cydney Scott
Warning: students at BU may be suffering from culture shock this fall. When they left campus last spring or after a summer orientation, 100 Bay State Road was a construction site near Kenmore Square. When classes started in September 2012, however, the brand-new Center for Student Services was open for business, redefining the east entrance to Boston University and radically transforming dining, academic support, and career planning offerings on campus.
The six-story building includes three dining locations and a central lounge, nicknamed The Ellipse, where students can congregate. It’s also the new home of the Center for Career Development, the Educational Resource Center, and several College of Arts & Sciences advising and academic support programs. These offices, previously scattered across campus, are taking advantage of their new location to revamp their student outreach and make 100 Bay State Road a destination for students across the University.
“The Center for Student Services has allowed us to take a fresh look at our programs, as well as present a fresh physical face,” says Laurie Pohl, vice president of enrollment and student affairs. “We wanted to be sure we were putting modern, state-of-the-art services into this modern, state-of-the-art building.”
By concentrating the programs in a new location, Pohl says, students seeking anything from a chemistry tutor to a résumé critique will find a one-stop shop for support. “The idea is to take a more holistic view of these services and functions to help students succeed,” she says. “We want them to come in with an appointment, and leave with a plan.”
A Good Start
Many members of the Class of 2016 have already visited, beginning their yearlong freshman composition requirement with seminars at the Writing Program, which offers introductory classes to first-years at eight of BU’s undergraduate schools, or taking FY101, the intro-to-college seminar offered by Student Programs & Leadership. The move has provided both programs with major physical upgrades—enhanced classrooms, private tutorial space, activity group meeting areas—but the new comforts are just part of the appeal. With advising and academic support services gathered under one roof, there’s unprecedented opportunity for undergraduates to take advantage of all the resources available. Students dropping by for a writing class can get a firsthand look at peer mentorship or student government in action. Others coming to meet with an academic advisor can walk down the hall for help with a term paper.
“We’re really hoping to become a destination for students,” says Joseph Bizup, director of the Writing Program. “And we’re having a lot of conversations about how to leverage our services to deliver something that’s coherent, integrated, and good.”
The focus goes far beyond freshmen, too: the Center for Career Development (CCD) and the Educational Resource Center (ERC) are putting their heads together to engage students at every stage of college life, and help them forge a path to the future. “Our strategic plan includes both centers, building on the idea that students mature academically, which leads to a maturation of their professional goals,” says Glenn Wrigley, director of the ERC, which provides services such as foreign language conversation groups and academic skills workshops.
The two centers are launching a joint student ambassador program, recruiting students to assist with community building and outreach, and training them to help with cover letters and provide résumé critiques, so they can deliver more student consultations, even at peak times of year. “We’re hoping to engage students from the early stages and help them make decisions about the future while they’re still at BU,” says Kimberly G. DelGizzo, CCD director.
Both centers share a high-profile promotional space on the first floor, intended to alert students to their main locations upstairs. The new offices also offer ample room for both centers’ needs: a tutorial room can become an interview room as needed, while study areas, with flat-screen monitors for laptops, are also used by campus recruiters leading information sessions for job-seeking students.
Fuel for Thought
If career planning and peer tutoring don’t get students in the door, Director of Dining Services Barbara Laverdiere has a secret weapon: prosciutto macaroni and cheese with an Asiago-sage crust.
The new dining options at 100 Bay State Road start with a bakery and café called Rize. There’s also Late Night Kitchen, where students can have what Laverdiere calls “comfort food with a twist,” like stuffed burgers or that mac and cheese. It’s a sit-down restaurant setup, but students can use their meal plan to purchase dinner.
Finally, there’s the two-story dining room, called the Fresh Food Company at Marciano Commons. A cross-campus sibling to the Fresh Food Company at West Campus, this dining hall seats 920 (and serves around 5,000 meals every day) and replaces the older dining halls at three nearby residences. The space has 12 dining stations for every meal, healthy menu options from BU Sargent Choice Nutrition Center, digital menu boards with nutrition information, and two kitchens dedicated to vegan and gluten-free meals to prevent cross-contamination.
“The new building has really given us a chance to do everything we’ve ever wanted,” says Laverdiere, who notes that the new kitchens feature energy-efficient appliances and advanced recycling and composting systems. “When students saw the space, they were blown away.”