Ray Delgado, News Service (650) 724-5708, firstname.lastname@example.org
Construction of new Graduate Student Center set to begin
Construction of a long-planned, much-needed community center for graduate students is closer to becoming a reality, thanks to funding from philanthropist and real estate developer John Arrillaga, a Stanford alumnus.
"This project was a dream in Student Affairs and among graduate students for a long time, but we had no idea how to pull it off," said Provost John Etchemendy. "John Arrillaga in his generosity has made this dream possible."
Construction may begin as early as this quarter, according to Vice Provost for Student Affairs Gene Awakuni. The 12,000-square-foot, two-story center, which had been included in the university's most recent 10-year capital plan, is to be built next to Studio One, near Rains Houses and Escondido Village on the east side of campus. The necessary square footage has been allocated from the General Use Permit for its construction.
Members of the Graduate Student Council and Chris Griffith, associate dean of graduate student life and current acting dean of students, began planning for the center two years ago, based on discussions about graduate student needs.
Preliminary plans call for the center to house a large multipurpose meeting room and several smaller conference rooms, a snack bar and café, a copier and computer workstation room, administrative office space, outdoor patios and a children's play area. The ground floor of the building will feature a large pub for social activities and meetings, Griffith said.
The Student Activity Space Task Force, a group of students, faculty and administrators convened by Awakuni that has worked for the past year, reviewed the project as part of its master plan for the campus.
"The task force, which was very much a cooperative effort between students and the administration, sees this community center as a key piece of the overall master plan for meeting students' activity space needs," Awakuni said. "A lot of work and planning, not to mention the generosity of the donor, went into making this a reality."
"We are all very excited. A lot of people have been working very hard, advocating for this, and we're grateful to the university for considering the project and allowing us to have input," said Grace Chang, former graduate student representative of the Associated Students.
Chang emphasized that the center will fill a real need for graduate students. "There's no real place on campus for graduate students to meet and hang out. Escondido Village is particularly underserved, as there are thousands of grad students living there but no central gathering place. It's a perfect location, both for those who live on campus as well as those who commute," she said.
Campus architect David Neuman said Arrillaga's enthusiasm and assistance with design recommendations was helping to move things along quickly.
"I've worked with him many times before, and once again, everything is going very smoothly. We expect to have an attractive, well-designed and functioning building very quickly," Neuman said.
The university hopes to have the building open next fall, depending on the permit process.
By Ray Delgado