COLUMBIA — Students past and present turned out Friday for dedication and pre-dedication festivities at the new MU Student Center.
The center has offered students limited access since the beginning of the fall semester, when the food court, bookstore and ground-level lounge area became operational.
At an open house Thursday night, students were allowed into the upper level lounges and Mort's Grill, which is still under construction but open for viewing.
To kick off the event, the "Welcome to Your Student Center" tailgate was hosted outside the center. An estimated 1,500 to 2,000 people ate at the event, said Mark Lucas, director of MU Student Life.
Plates were filled with:
- Pulled pork with Tiger sauce, a creation served at Do Mundo's in the food court.
- Burgers with Shack sauce, following the recipe from the original Shackburger.
- Barbecue beans.
- Cole slaw.
- Orzo pasta salad with cranberries.
Burgers were prepared in the style they will be served at Mort's, so attendees could preview the famed Shackburger.
MU alumna Nancy Gerardi, 66, and her husband, Ken Wilhelm, 68, said they enjoyed the food and the efficiency of the tailgate and were impressed by the Student Center.
"I think it's all wonderful," Gerardi said. "It just makes coming to MU more attractive."
"If a high school football player were on campus experiencing this day, he's in," Wilhelm added.
The first dedication of the day took place in the Traditions Lounge on the center's upper level. The lounge features several elements that represent MU traditions, including:
- Visual depictions of Memorial Union, Homecoming, Tiger Walk, Francis Quadrangle and Truman the Tiger on the walls.
- Two display cases filled with MU artifacts.
- Black-and-gold-themed furniture.
Jeff Zeilenga, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs, commented on some unique features of the lounge that the casual viewer might not recognize.
"As promised, you can't walk 10 feet in any direction without seeing, touching, sitting or standing on black and gold," he said.
Zeilenga also noted that the black granite inlay and stone used for the fireplace in the lounge comes from the original floor of the Memorial Union tower.
The theme of original materials was carried into the Shack, a lounge area that Zeilenga said will feature the original green door and some of the booths from the restaurant, complete with old bubble gum and beer stains.
Zeilenga said he anticipates the center will be fully completed within the next 30 to 60 days.
Outside the center, a time capsule assembled by the Student Union Programming Board was dedicated with a video detailing the experiences, trends and traditions of 2010 students. The capsule is intended for review by students in 2060.
Board president Saskia Chaskelson said the capsule's creators planned ahead for the difficulties 2010 viewing technology might present in the future.
"We are going to put the method of viewing in the capsule," she said. "And MU archives is holding a second copy of everything so it can be preserved."
The dedications concluded with the Student Center as a whole. Zeilenga thanked organizations across campus for their help in completing the project.
Missouri Students Association President Tim Noce addressed the crowd at the dedication, speaking of his experience seeing the center grow to completion from his freshman year to the present. He also shared a story about a construction decision, in which a choice had to be made between using Iowa and Kansas limestone to cover the outside of the building.
"No self-respecting Tiger would be caught hanging out in a place that was built out of Jayhawk rock," said Noce, referring to the University of Kansas mascot.
Kristofferson Culmer, president of the Graduate Professional Council, also spoke. He said the center would offer graduate students a place to extend the experiences and creativity happening in their classrooms and research, as well as a more relaxed environment for mentors and students to meet.
Catherine Scroggs, the vice chancellor for student affairs, spoke last, saying she thought the center was the best in the Big 12 Conference and possibly even the nation.