With a splash of maize and blue, new lights, new furniture and colorful murals, the University of Michigan-Flint's Harding Mott University Center is undergoing renovations to improve the home of student life on campus.
The UCEN, built in the late 1970s, houses Picasso @ UCEN, the campus cafeteria, along with offices in the Division of Student Affairs and the Center for Global Engagement. Students can visit the UCEN to grab a meal with friends, study, hang out in the Student Loft or attend a program. Spaces such as the Center for Gender and Sexuality and the Intercultural Center offer resources and welcoming places to engage with staff and fellow students.
"The upgrades and renovations to UCEN – our student center – are designed to create a more welcoming, comfortable and appealing environment for our students to gather, interact and engage with one another while on campus," said Christopher Giordano, vice chancellor for student affairs. "Whether students are engaged in a student activity or program, seeking services or resources, looking for a comfortable place to grab a bite to eat or simply to hang out between classes or throughout the day, we want UCEN to feel like 'their space' on campus. We're excited about the focus of the project and look forward to continued progress throughout the year."
Renovations started during the summer and will continue through the fall semester, but the updates have already considerably changed the space. Drywall bands on all the three floors have been painted U-M colors, adding vibrancy to the building. A land acknowledgment was installed outside of the Kiva, on the building's first floor and just inside the main entrance. The acknowledgment reads:
We would like to acknowledge that the land our campus occupies is the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary homeland of many Indigenous nations, most recently the Anishinabek (including Potawatomi, Chippewa/Ojibwe, and Odawa) tribal nations.
We acknowledge the painful history of genocide, forced relocation, and removal of many from this territory, and we honor and respect the many Indigenous people, including those of the Three Fires Alliance, who are still connected to this land.
Also on the first floor is the new Welcome Center, which remains under construction. Undergraduate Admissions will move to the offices formerly occupied by the Print Shop. The Welcome Center reception area will be a starting point for new and potential students visiting UM-Flint. Next to Admissions, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will move from its second-floor suite to a renovated office space within the Intercultural Center.
On the third floor, a bright new mural was installed in Clint's Cafe to honor Clinton Jones, the university's first Black chancellor who served from 1984-93. The mural expresses Jones' work to create a campus that was reflective of and responsive to the diverse populations in the Flint area. Riverview, the cafeteria dining area in UCEN @ Picasso, has new lighting and three new wall-mounted televisions. Booth seating that used to be in the space has been removed to create a better view of the Flint River. In both locations, new furniture will be in place by the end of September.
LED lighting has been installed throughout the building, brightening it considerably. The university also replaced numerous ceiling tiles.
Lastly, the university is installing wraps for concrete columns, a floating art piece in the atrium and a new building directory.
Lindsay Knake is the Communications Coordinator for the UM-Flint Division of Student Affairs. Contact her with any questions, comments, or ideas about the DSA newsletter, social media, events, and communications.