University of Nevada–Las Vegas
The Student Union on the University of Nevada–Las Vegas campus, built in 2007, reached its 10th year as the facility where students meet, socialize, study, eat, debate, and even rest. The Student Union has hosted many well-known talents and dignitaries including Carrot Top, Margaret Cho, and Barack Obama.
The 10th anniversary celebration saw more than 2,000 attendees sampling more than 15,000 pieces/package foods and petting baby goats. The Student Union is busy, serving a student population of 22,000 within 160,000-square-feet of meeting/gathering space. Space is limited and competitive. However, a solution may be on the horizon.
Jon Tucker, director of the Student Union and Event Services Department, arrived in 2013 from the University of Oregon. In his short tenure, he has recognized and identified the need for more space, specifically, properly assigned and used space. Meeting rooms, study lounges, multipurpose rooms, a larger ballroom, student organization offices, and programmatic areas are many of the missing components of the Student Union.
Tucker has begun researching what it will take to expand the Student Union by an additional 80,000 to 150,000 square feet. Some initial ideas include the addition of more food options (a food court, a dining commons and a pub-style restaurant), a larger multi-functional ballroom overlooking the Las Vegas strip, and adding the campus bookstore. When asked why now, he responded, “We want a space that is flexible to meet the needs of our users now and 10 years from now.”
Initial interest on the idea of an expansion has been met with positive support from students, campus leadership, and the community, who welcome the opportunity to continue collaborating with the institution. As focus groups and surveys assessing student and community interest continue, the celebration of the Student Union’s 25th anniversary is just around the corner.