Posted August 20, 2011 by Elizabeth Stringer, Gillian Thiebe, and Justin Rudisille 

ACUI Campus Tour Day Three: In My Mind, I'm Going to Carolina

Another early morning, but another great one as well. Fancy Cami took us to Greenville, S.C. for a visit at Furman University. Though fairly early, students and families were still wondering around campus, going to the University Center and dining hall.

J. Scott Derrick led our tour of the University Center. With less than 3,000 students, the facility serves a smaller student population, but still has a lot to offer. During our tour, he spoke of renovation plans in the university's master plan that would update the facility to make it more open and accommodating to student life and activities. Some features of the facility included:

  • The Burgiss Theater has a digital projection system
  • The University Center is located on a lake, making for an amazing view from the Watkins Room and the Paladen
  • The class banners of those years currently enrolled at Furman hang above the lobby
The University Center plays a large role in orientation and welcome week activities. As the "Dean of Fun," J. Scott said his department's role in welcoming students is to show that even with Furman's rigorous academic requirements, there is a lighter and more fun side to campus with the University Center and student activities. A unique event presented this year was the President's Farewell, which marks the end of the parents' involvement in orientation and the beginning of the students' independence after moving away from home. Additionally, all students are required to complete 34 Cultural Life Programs (CLP) credits to graduate; these are out-of-the classroom activities in which students participate and are often held in the union, including multiple programs during Welcome Week.

We thank J. Scott for the time he took for our tour this morning.

Next, we headed east to Rock Hill, S.C., the home of Winthrop University. The DiGiorgio Campus Center opened in August 2010. The facility was built as part of an overall campus vision to recenter the campus around the building, which is now truly a living room. During our time in the facility, we also had a chance to sit down with Vice President of Student Life Frank Ardaiolo to discuss the ongoing campus updates and future vision, as well as the transformation the opening of the new building has caused on campus.
Alicia Marstall and Billy Dahlgren offered us a thorough tour of the building, which included:
  • The Campus Center has a large "back yard" area that offers green space, walkways, and an amphitheater; the space serves as a great programming venue and backdrop
  • Since student organization leaders are often on the go, portable offices, which are stored in lockers when not used, are able to be moved anywhere around the building
  • The center was designed to be very open and flexible, offering moveable furniture in all meeting rooms as well as services like the games room, gaming center, and lounge space in open areas
  • Along with student life, residential life offices are housed in the building
The new facility has transformed student life at Winthrop and enabled the union to meet student needs. With that, the Campus Center plays a large role in welcome week and orientation, from serving as a check in location to organizing events such as Playfair, the ultimate icebreaker. While there, we had a chance to see first-year students lining up for a mandatory 360 Stay Safe event in the ballroom, facilitated by the campus police department.

We appreciate the hospitality of Alicia and Billy as well as other staff members who stopped to chat with us.

We bid farewell to South Carolina and headed north to Davidson College. William Brown, staff advisors, and student members of the Union Board graciously invited us to have some dinner and discussion, even as they were busy gearing up for the Willy Wonka Party. After meeting some of the students, William took us on a tour of the Knobloch Campus Center, which was formerly a gym. A few notable features of this building are:
  • Housed in the union, Davidson Outdoors coordinates student outdoor adventures, such as the Odyssey, an eight-day optional student-led outdoor adventure for incoming students
  • The Duke Family Performance Hall is a large theater space for student use and is only occupied by the theater department for three weeks out of the year; it is used for performances, workshops, and annual events
  • C. Shaw Smith was an inspirational presence at Davidson, and that still lives on today; the Campus Center has a programming space in his name, the university gives an award in his honor, and his voice is still helping to tell the story of the union
The Union Board is in charge of all social events for orientation and welcome week. This year these included dressing up and posing with students, an ice cream social, and a Willy Wonka Party, which we we were lucky enough to attend. This event offered a ton of candy, a photo booth, inflatables, relaxation stations, a cupcake decorating station, and Union Board members dressed up as Willy Wonka and Oompa-Loompas. Additionally, the union space has the Honor Code signatures of all students on display, which is a ritual for incoming first-year students to sign prior to the start of classes, remaining on display until that class graduates.

Thank you to William for the wonderful tour, dinner, and discussion of the role of the college union and to the Union Board for putting on a great event.

We are approaching the halfway mark of our tour: eight institutions visited and 12 more to go. Tomorrow we will be touring more campuses in North Carolina.
Campus Tour 2011



Elizabeth Stringer

Elizabeth Stringer is the Senior Manager of Marketing & Communication at ACUI.

Gillian Thiebe

Gillian Thiebe is the SUNAPSIS Business Manager at Indiana University–Bloomington.

Justin Rudisille

Justin Rudisille is the Director of Volunteer & Member Engagement at ACUI.

Justin coordinates the recruitment, training, and recognition initiatives for volunteers at all levels, as well as oversees research initiatives. He liaises with ACUI’s regions, the Volunteer Development Team, the Research Program Team, the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education, the College Union and Student Activities (CUSA) evaluation program, and the awards and scholarships programs.


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