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Community center creates welcome at heart of campus

January 13, 2012

Arms flung out, Erica Kelly twirled around in a lime green chair.

Kelly, a junior at the University of California, Davis, was relishing the bright new space for student life programs and academic resources in the $22 million Student Community Center that opened its doors this week.

"I have this elated feeling," said Kelly, who is a peer educator with the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center on the building's ground floor. "The center says we value the community and these student groups," added the food science and technology major from San Jose.

The almost 43,000-gross-square-foot center fulfills a vision of UC Davis students to build a facility to demonstrate and help the campus live out its Principles of Community — a commitment to being a learning environment that values diversity and is characterized by understanding and acceptance of all people. In referenda in 1999 and 2002, students approved paying additional fees for the purpose.

Located at a central intersection bustling with bicyclists and pedestrians, the two-story stucco and terra cotta building brings together student life programs that had been located in inadequate or out-of-the-way spaces. It fronts a planned pedestrian promenade between the main library and a bus terminal.

"We wanted to create synergy and collaboration," said Associate Vice Chancellor Griselda Castro of Students Affairs, who helped guide plans for the building. "It's a place to study and get connected and get involved with campus communities."

The large, welcoming lobby — open beyond the second floor to generous skylights — leads to the glass fronts of the LGBT Resource Center, the Cross Cultural Center, and the Student Recruitment and Retention Center. The upper floor includes a multipurpose room, computer classrooms and the Undergraduate Research Center. The building also includes outreach offices for ethnic studies programs and the Women's Resources and Research Center.

Features include an extended-hours study room, meetings rooms, open lounge and study space, a small café, a reflection room overlooking an exterior water feature, two outdoor balconies, traditional and gender-neutral restrooms, and a lactation room.

Coming soon will be murals at the community center's two main entrances. Malaquias Montoya, a professor emeritus of the Chicana/o Studies Program and Art Studio, will paint a mural that begins on the outside of the building and carries through its south entrance to the inside of the building.

Students in a Mexican and Chicano mural workshop will create a smaller mural, this one outside the north door. Malaquias Montoya's son, Maceo Montoya, an assistant professor of Chicana/o studies, leads the workshop.

Project funding — construction and operating expenses — is largely from student fees authorized by student referenda: 1999's Facilities and Campus Enhancement Initiative, or FACE, and 2002’s Campus Expansion Initiative, or CEI. The budget also includes student service fees and campus investment funds.

A ceremony to officially dedicate the building is planned for May 18.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

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