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New MU Student Center gets more than $3 million in furniture

Monday, September 6, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 10:07 p.m. CDT, Monday, September 6, 2010
Bruce Holtkamp examines the blueprints for the new $60,000 student information desk in the expanded Brady Commons on Wednesday. The desk will include two permanent computers, 99 laptops available for checkout, a printer and three plasma TVs for students to learn about events around campus.

COLUMBIA — More than 1,500 pieces of furniture have began rolling into the new MU Student Center, according to MU Student and Auxiliary Services.

They represent the bulk of the $3.4 million in furnishings that will help fill the newest portions of the center, said Michelle Froese, public relations manager for MU Student and Auxiliary Services.

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The largest and most expensive of these is the $60,000 custom-built information center, Froese said, which is already the subject of discussion across campus.

It will be placed in the southwest corner of the food court and function as a go-to place for student tech needs, from laptop plug-in to printing, she said.

Other items on the list of furnishings include:

  • 445 sofas.
  • 235 lounge chairs.
  • 280 desk chairs
  • 155 conference chairs.
  • 98 guest chairs.
  • 244 meeting room chairs.
  • 730 dining chairs.
  • 267 dining tables.
  • 57 L-shaped desks.
  • 4 pool tables.
  • 1 foosball table
  • 100 computers and a central printing station.

Froese said the $3.4 million to pay for the information center and other furnishings came from a combination of student fees, campus organizations and profits from the sale of athletic merchandise, textbooks and supplies, and other enterprises operated by MU.

These profits made up slightly more than $2.2 million of the cost, she said. Contributions from student organizations such as the Missouri Students Association, the Office of Greek Life and The Maneater — all housed in the Student Center — made up $580,166 of the total. 

Tim Noce, president of MSA, said it was important to have a plan to fund the furniture so that money would not have to be taken away from student programming.

"Hopefully, at the end of the day, it saves some money for students," Noce said.

Student fees kicked in $281,000, which came out of the capital improvement budget over a four-year period, said Alysha O'Neil, administrative manager for Student Affairs. This is a subcategory of the activity fee students pay each semester, she said.

A joint committee of professors and students have jurisdiction over the use of this money, O'Neil said.

The fees allocated to furnishings are separate from the $64 million dedicated to construction of the center, Froese said. In 2004, students agreed to pay $35 per semester, beginning in 2009, to repay the bond over 30 years.

Another $304,368 is still needed to finish paying for the Student Center furnishings, she said. The plan is to split that amount nearly 50-50 between Student and Auxiliary Services funds and the student capital improvement fee for the next three years.

Installing the furniture should be completed in six weeks, said Tracy Schultz, coordinator of interior design for MU Student Services.

Because of its size and complexity, the information center is one of the biggest projects. The oval-shaped desk will occupy space west of the food court on the middle level.

The desk looks much like the one that sits in the lobby of Jesse Hall. It stretches just over 23 feet long and 19 feet wide, according to a diagram provided by Froese. The top is black quartz with tiger-striped panels around the exterior.

It is outfitted with an array of custom features, she said.  These include built-in pamphlet displays, storage for 100 laptops, six laptop stations around the perimeter, a print station and a three-screen plasma information display.

Students also will find a selection of board games, playing cards and poker chips stored inside the desk, Froese said.  The games can be used in Mort's, the restaurant on the first floor that pays homage to MU alumnus Mort Walker, creator of the Beetle Bailey comic strip.

The remaining space in the new Student Center is largely divided into lounges and offices.

The basement of University Bookstore occupies the east end of the lower level. The west end is devoted to a student lounge, meeting rooms, private offices for student organizations and work stations for other groups.

The work stations will vary in style and use, but a typical L-shaped cubicle costs between $3,000 and $4,000, Schultz said. They include a task chair, desk, light, privacy panels, outlets, overhead storage, bookshelf and, in some, cushioned file cabinets for extra seating.

Office furnishings cost about $2,500 per office and generally include an L-shaped desk, task chair, guest chair, lateral file, bookshelf, tack board, overhead file, pedestals and a light, she said.

The middle level, which has the food court and University Bookstore, is already partially open for use. The west end will be filled with seating for Mort's and pool tables, as well as meeting rooms and the Tiger Den lounge space.

On the upper level of the Student Center are three central lounges and the offices of Student Life, situated on the west side, which opened last year during construction.

The lounges are themed — the Traditions Lounge, Bridge Lounge and Leadership Lounge.

The Bridge Lounge runs along a walkway connecting the east and west ends of the upper level and allows students to peer into the food court below. It has a series of chairs and tables for study and conversation.

The other two lounges anchor the sides of the walkway. Froese said MU alumni contributed to the Traditions Lounge, while the Leadership Lounge celebrates student leaders.

The chairs in the lounges cost about $800 each and maintain the center's black-and-gold color scheme, Schultz said.

Currently, students have restricted access to the middle level and upper levels but will have full access by April 2011, she said.

In addition to its utility for current students, MSA Senator and MU Summer Welcome Leader Matt Sheppard said he thinks the new center will help attract prospective students.

"When you are thinking about that full college experience, the Student Center works as that selling point," he said.


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