Posted October 1, 2015 by Tiffany Moffo Simpson 

Reflections on a Student Center's 50th Anniversary

Glasses clanked and laughter ensued at the Student Center of Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) on June 6 as friends, colleagues, and alumni gathered to celebrate the Student Center’s 50th anniversary.

Student Center alums and administrators reflected on their time in the now 84,000-square-foot facility, which many fondly refer to as home. Building relationships and community were common themes among alumni.

“The hallways are more than just brick and mortar,” said Eric Rowles, president and CEO of the training agency Leading to Change.CCSU Student Center

Known as the living room of the campus, the Student Center is “one of the university’s finest additions,” as Richard Judd, former Student Center director and past CCSU president, wrote in a letter to Otis Mamed, current Student Center director. Below are some interesting historical facts about the Student Center:

  1. The campus community enters the Student Center through castle-like entryways. 
  2. The Bellin Gallery exhibit, which consists of three wall-sized murals, was part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Work Progress Administration efforts during the Depression.
  3. A pub was located in the building from 1974–86, and it was the original home of the whale carving in the Student Center’s main office. When the carving was hung over the fireplace in Semesters, an eating area in the building, it was “harpooned” regularly by pub employees during the late '70s and early '80s.
  4. The beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles was the reason for the birth of the Mosaic Center, which seeks to foster intercultural unity.
  5. The logo for Semesters is based on the TV show Cheers.
  6. The design of Breakers Game Room was somewhat based on the Tom Cruise movie Cocktail.
  7. The building has many ellipses … the drum, balcony, mezzanine, staircase, and carpet.
  8. Blue film on Student Center windows supports CCSU’s “We Bleed Blue.”
  9. Some of the meeting rooms are named after past principals of the Normal School, which was later named Central Connecticut State College and then Central Connecticut State University.
  10. The Student Center has Coca-Cola freestyle machines in its commuter dining space.

Duane Orloske, who retired as the associate dean for student affairs and was also once a graduate intern and Student Center director, emphasized the difference the Student Center has made in people’s lives.

“As (past students) told me, it was their employment and volunteer work in the center that made their CCSU education all worthwhile and helped them develop into who they have become,” Orloske explained.

Duane Orloske (sitting) & Eric RowlesThe Student Center and Student Activities/Leadership Development staffs have educated students since 1964.

“Sixty percent of all college learning takes place outside of the classroom, and much of that takes place right here at the Student Center,” Mamed said during the Student Center’s ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 10, 2014.

Robert Schneeweiss, who retired as Student Activities/Leadership Development’s director, said that during his career, he asked himself three questions: “What did I teach? What did they learn? What did I learn? ... I always conceptualized my work in the Student Center and Student Activities/Leadership Development as that of a life educator.”

Rowles said the skills he gained as a graduate intern helped him to thrive in business.

“I am in a vibrant job that requires me to multitask and focus on operations, programming, and audio-visual,” Rowles said.

As a past graduate intern and administrator, Joanne Rafferty applies her knowledge as Wesleyan University’s current associate director for the Usdan Center.

“Teamwork and camaraderie were important lessons I learned,” she said. “Working alongside people that you know well, respect, and trust is motivation to strive for your best.”

David Ross, retired assistant vice president of student affairs, said he acquired his leadership skills while holding various positions at CCSU, including as a graduate assistant and the Student Center director.

“The skills learned and developed through my work at the Student Center such as planning, supervision, budgeting, facility management, problem-solving, and dealing with numerous student populations positioned me to assume other responsibilities within the university,” he said.

Mary Connelly, past graduate intern and current assistant dean of student affairs at the University of Massachusetts–Lowell, said her graduate experience prepped her for her student affairs career.

“We worked hard and spent more than the required time in the building, attending programs and working with the student employees and volunteers,” she said. “I especially enjoyed the time spent with the professional staff and then with the other grad fellows, talking informally about how and why things happened.”

Echoing Connelly, Judd said, “There are so many innovations that the Student Center brought about … lectures, concerts, dances etc. … The most important thing to me was that they were student initiatives supported by a student-centered staff.”

Alumni were delighted to be part of a special legacy.

“The 50-year excellence is evident through its alumni, who are some of the most inspiring, creative, and respected administrators and educators in higher education,” said Ed Cabellon, past graduate intern and current Bridgewater State University’s assistant to the vice president of student affairs.

Tiffany Moffo Simpson

Tiffany Moffo Simpson is the Assistant Director for Student Center Services at Central Connecticut State University.

Tiffany manages the Student Center’s student employment program at Central Connecticut State University and supervises graduate interns who are responsible for managing the Information Desk, Reception Desk, and Breakers Game Room, as well as an administrative faculty member who supervises Tech Services. At CCSU, she is also the Student Conduct Board hearing officer and chair, co-advisor to the Society of Professional Journalists, and Media Board member. She also serves as communications coordinator on ACUI’s Region VIII Leadership Team. Tiffany graduated from Southern Connecticut State University with a bachelor’s in corporate communication and obtained a master’s in educational leadership with a concentration in student development in higher education from CCSU.


Great way to capture the event, thanks for posting Tiffany!
Corbin Smyth
Comment posted 10/12/2015 6:39 PM
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