Western celebrates grand opening of 'newest, most innovative student union in the state'

Contact: Erin Flynn

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Strike up the Bronco Marching Band, Western Michigan University's brand new student center is officially open. The campus community will make it official with a grand opening celebration on Tuesday, Aug. 29, at 2:15 p.m. at the Sangren Plaza entrance.

"The WMU Student Center is a testament to our dedication to fostering a student-centered environment where memories will be created for many years to come," says WMU President Edward Montgomery. "This remarkable space will serve as the hub of connections, the heart of campus and a cherished place of belonging."

The grand opening festivities will continue through 6 p.m. in tandem with Bronco Bash, featuring an appearance by the Bronco Marching Band, live music, free food, a photo booth and guided tours every 30 minutes.

The new facility is the culmination of years of planning. Dr. Diane Anderson, vice president for student affairs, started crisscrossing the country with students years ago, taking stock of their favorite student union features, and Paul Terzino, director of the student center, continued the tours in recent years. 

"We have all been eagerly awaiting this momentous occasion and are incredibly excited to show students the space and its thoughtfully curated amenities," Anderson says.

"From the moment we opened (for the soft opening in late July), there has been a discernible buzz," adds Terzino. "Students are incredibly excited about the WMU Student Center and all it has to offer. I've see a lot of wide eyes and have heard a lot of, 'Wows.'"

The design features floor-to-ceiling windows that stream in natural light, an open concept to encourage connection and interaction, and a number of student-focused resources and gathering spaces like the Student Organization Center, game room, dining facility, fast-casual restaurants and a multitude of hammocking poles throughout. 

"The new student center is impressively spacious and open, creating an environment that encourages interaction and connection among students," says Jacob Roberts, president of the Campus Activities Board. "The modern and updated design fosters engagement, whether you're dining, grabbing a quick bite or simply walking through the building, making chance encounters with friends more likely. This enhanced sense of openness and connectivity promises to contribute significantly to students' overall engagement and sense of belonging on campus."

"It's the newest, most innovative student union in the state," says Kenzie Meyer, graduate assistant for campus programs in the Office of Student Engagement. "I'm proud to be a Bronco because Western prides itself on innovation. So it's really cool to see incoming students and others—no matter what year they are—coming in and seeing a touchstone of that innovation."

There will be extra incentive for Broncos to check out their new space during the grand opening. Students attending the event will have the opportunity to complete a scavenger hunt that allows them to explore the new building and win special prizes including T-shirts, fanny packs, tote bags and hammocks. The first 50 students to enter the student center during the celebration will receive a free T-shirt and the first 30 to complete a full scavenger hunt card will receive a free hammock.

More information about the WMU Student Center and all of its amenities, including business hours, is available online.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.