"Must we always teach our children with books? Let them look at mountains and the stars up above. ... They will then begin to think, and to think is the beginning of a real education."
– David Polis
Volume 75 | Issue 2
March 2007

Fred B. Wenn Student Center and Penny & Roe Stamps Student Center Commons


Although the union was not opened until 1970, the students of Georgia Tech started planning for it nearly 30 years earlier. Today, the Fred B. Wenn Student Center and Penny & Roe Stamps Student Center Commons, is actually a "conglomeration of four buildings constructed from 1970 to 1985," said Rich Steele, director.

Over the past 10 years, the Student Center has undergone a series of renovations. In 1997, the ballroom was expanded; in 2003, a bookstore was "vacated, fully renovated, connected to the Student Center, and opened as the Fred B. Wenn Student Center and Penny & Roe Stamps Student Center Commons in 2004," Steele said. "Renovations continued in the Student Center to upgrade finishes, create an information desk, and renovate restrooms through 2007."

Unique features

According to Kim Harrington, associate director for operations, the Student Center "comes alive when people walk through the door." The Student Center is open 24 hours per day, allowing students to access it anytime needed. As the social center of the Georgia Tech campus, students really appreciate this. "The Student Center is used for socializing because it’s busy and designed for activity—students are all over the building," Steele said. "The building is too small for the student population, so we use every square inch we can to create gathering places."

Students’ role

The Student Center provides many ways for students to participate. First, 105 students are employed at all levels of work for the union. Also, student officers lead both the Governing Board and Programming Board. “Students lead and run program committees and numerous service areas in the facility are managed by students with a student staff,” said Steele.


The Student Center offers many programming board events from festivals to dance classes. Harrington said that the ballroom is packed with students learning to swing dance and salsa. "Even on a college campus which is 70 percent male and nearly 70 percent engineering, we still host over a dozen dance classes every week that attract hundreds of students through our leisure course program," Steele said.

According to Steele, some more notable programs include Take-A-Prof to Lunch, where "students invite faculty, teaching assistants, or staff to lunch and pay a greatly reduced fee for two lunches in order to enhance student/faculty interaction," the student art competition, Flicks on the Fifth, a summer outdoor film series.

And the Student Center has had its fair share of concert and speeches, which have included Ludacris, Big Boi, Bubba Sparxxx, Fuel, Paul Rusasabagina, MythBusters, Lewis Black, and Jimmy Carter.

Georgia Institute of Technology
Four-year, urban, public
Full-time enrollment: 17,117
Located: Atlanta

Fred B. Wenn Student Center and Penny & Roe Stamps Student Center Commons
Director: Rich Steele
size: 166,856 sq. ft.
3 (Student Center) 2 (Center Commons)
Built: 1970
Operating budget: $1.8 million
Student staff:
105 (part-time)
Nonstudent staff: 47 (full-time)