August 2014 Bulletin
Volume 82 | Issue 4
August  2014

Union Spotlight: University Center, Western State Colorado University


The University Center at Western State Colorado University was built in 2009, just before the school became a university. The LEED Gold Certified building features high-efficiency boilers, displacement ventilation, and motorized clerestory windows that both optimize natural light and afford natural ventilation.

The University Center provides such services as retail and residential dining, a bookstore, campus mail, a movie theater, games area, computer kiosks, and meeting facilities.

Unique Features

The best feature of the University Center is its place within both the student community and the greater Gunnison community. In addition to becoming a “catalyst for student engagement and community building,” according to Director Svea Whiting, the University Center provides valuable services to external organizations.

“In a given week, you might find a half-dozen meetings hosted for outside groups,” Whiting said. “Our theater is leased to a local vendor and serves as Gunnison’s only first-run, commercial movie house. Many community members purchase dining passes or stop at Mad Jack’s café for a cup of coffee or a sandwich.”

Students’ Role

Students staff the University Center’s information desk, providing information and assistance to visitors and new students as well as current students, faculty, and staff. Students also staff offices such as Residence Life, Orientation and Student Engagement, the Multicultural Center, the bookstore, and Wilderness Pursuits. Additionally, students run the 32 organizations housed in the Inter-Club Council. 


“For the past several years, students have organized winter events during our darkest, coldest days on the south side of the University Center,” Whiting said. “Our now annual Rail Jam showcases incredible student prowess in daring feats of extreme snow sports—on jumps, rails, and tables built by students on snow delivered by the Gunnison City road crews. Students secure sponsors, such a Red Bull, borrow rails and tables from a local resort, set up lights, and groom their makeshift hill.”

Other events throughout the year incorporate the participation of many of the school’s student organizations, including Sushi Nights, a Martin Luther King celebration, the Masquerade Ball, and a Human vs. Zombies Nerf Ball Gun Battle.

According to Whiting, the Wilderness Pursuits organization provides unique services for the campus. “Students, faculty, and staff can not only rent outdoor equipment and join in guided trips, they can tune their skis, learn to repair their bicycles, and get advice on where to find safe adventures on their own,” she said.

Western State Colorado University
Four-year, public, rural
Full-time enrollment: 2,400
Location: Gunnison, Colo.

University Center
Director: Svea Whiting
Size: 75,000 sq. ft.
Floors: 3 stories, 2 floors
Year Built: 2009
Annual Budget: $577,000
Student Staff: 12 (part-time)
Nonstudent staff: 5 (full-time)