Union Spotlight: Student Union at Wright State University

Union Spotlight: Student Union at Wright State University2003-11-0160Union Spotlightsfalse


The Student Union was completed in 1994 by renovating and adding on to the existing 60,000 square foot University Center and the 160,000 square foot Physical Education Building, which were connected by a narrow cross-over ramp. An atrium was built between the two buildings to provide a seamless hub for the new union.

There have been only four directors in the history of Wright State University's Student Union (formerly the University Center)—Elizabeth Dixon, Lorna Dawes, Kathy Morris, and Bill Shepard. When Shepard was promoted, the former directors collectively congratulated him on "breaking the glass ceiling."

Special features

The Student Union is known to be a one-stop-shop for Wright State University's students with student services, campus recreation, student activities, and dining under one roof. In addition to lounges, meeting rooms, dining facilities, credit union, copy center, bookstore, and student organization offices, the Student Union houses nearly all student service units on campus. Campus Recreation is part of the Student Union at Wright State University. Recreation facilities located in the union include a natatorium, fitness center, billiards room, gymnasium, racquetball and squash courts, locker rooms, and an outdoor resource center.

The 40,000 square foot Union Market was completed in 2002 and includes a servery with six venues, a main dining room with seating for 500, the Wright Cup, Cyber Café, Hearth Lounge, faculty and staff dining, the Club Dining Room, and three new meeting rooms. When the Union Market opened, the Cyber Café and Wright Cup quickly became a popular spot for students to grab a cup of coffee and check e-mail or surf the Web.

Students' role

While the Student Union reports to the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services and is managed administratively, students play a major role in the day-to-day operation of the Student Union and Campus Recreation. The student staff is fully responsible for 15 different areas. A representative from each area sits on the team that advises the Student Union and Campus Recreation staff and helps plan and implement training, orientation, and social programs. The Union Activities Board is the primary programming board for student activities at Wright State University.

The student staff also has a reputation for having a good sense of humor. Once, while the assistant director was on an extended military leave, the students pooled their creativity and installed drywall over his office door. He returned to find a lamp table with a working lamp where his door used to be. On another occasion, the student activities manager came in for her last day of work before moving to the East Coast and found her desk on top of a stage unit inside her office and the office filled with pipe and drape.

Wright State University
3,000 residential students
Public, four-year institution
Full-time school enrollment: 12,000

Student Union
Director: Bill Shepard
Size of the union: 308,000 sq.ft.
Number of floors: 4
Year built: 1994
Total number of student staff: Part-time: 150
Total number of nonstudent staff: Full-time: 11

Updated Nov. 9, 2012