College Working Groups Make Campus Center Recommendations

Smith Center
Two College working groups have made recommendations for the future of the Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center, among them that the space include food options and meeting spaces.

Two working groups tasked with determining College priorities for the future of the Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center have recommended that the renovated space include food options, a venue for large events, and designated space for tourists, among other broad points.

Both working groups—one composed of undergraduates and the other of administrators and House masters—have ceased meeting after convening several times over the winter, both separately and jointly, to discuss the campus center and how it could benefit the College.

The renovated Smith Center, expected to undergo construction starting in 2016 and open in 2018, will be housed in the first three floors of what was previously named the Holyoke Center. Harvard Magazine has reported that the project is expected to cost $80 million.

The two College working groups were among a number of other committees convened to solicit ideas for the project from across the University, according to Paul Andrew, acting University vice president for communications. Administrators have emphasized that the space is not a student center or student union, but rather a space for individuals from across schools, including faculty and staff.

According to Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman ’67, who co-chaired the working group for College administrators with Leverett House Co-Master Howard M. Georgi ’68, the two College groups submitted joint recommendations to central administrators in recent weeks.

“There’s a lot of brainstorming, really, that was happening, to say, what are some things that would be really interesting to see as part of the campus center, [and] throw in the mix so that [Harvard Planning and Project Management] and the folks that are managing this project can look for synergies across the University,” said Associate Dean of Student Life David R. Friedrich, who co-chaired the undergraduate working group.

Renaming the Holyoke Center
University Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 announces the renaming of the Holyoke Center in November. The first three stories of the building will be transformed into a new campus center expected to open by 2018.

Friedrich said members of the student working group suggested that the Smith Center should include “as many student services as possible,” comfortable meeting space, and the Harvard Box Office, among other recommendations. Friedrich called food “probably the hottest topic” of the discussion.

Several members of the College working groups suggested that a challenge in creating the campus center will be to best serve undergraduates in a central, accessible location without taking away from House community.

“One theme that was voiced across the working groups is that we don’t want this to take away from House life,” said Cary A. Williams ’16, a member of the working group for undergraduates.

Dingman said that offering food in the campus center, for example, might draw Quad students away from their House dining halls at lunch.

Undergraduate Council President Gus A. Mayopoulos '15, who was involved with the student group, suggested that administrators could learn from Cambridge Queen’s Head Pub, which he noted is frequented by graduate students but was originally designed for undergraduates.

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