There’s a feeling of familiarity when walking through the front entrance of the Student Union at Hubbard Hall. The beautiful rotunda with the curved stairway leading to an upper floor is virtually unchanged, paying tribute to the history of the beloved building. Even some light fixtures are a throwback to the building’s past.
What lies beyond, however, is an entirely different story.
The university celebrated the grand opening of the Student Union at Hubbard Hall on Feb. 25 with a day full of activities for students, faculty, staff and alumni. The festivities began with a kick-off ceremony during which Chancellor Carine Feyten introduced guests including George Hubbard, son of former university president L.H. Hubbard, for whom the building is named. She also pointed out Jane Phelps (Class of ’52), who was the first person to have a meal in Hubbard Hall when it opened in 1950.
The building, which closed for renovation in April 2018, features 100,000 square feet of renovated space and 25,000 square feet of new construction. Within all this space are retail dining options, quiet lounges, a meditation room, a performance lounge, a game room, meeting rooms and expanded conference spaces. The building also houses the Student Union Office, the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Outreach, and the Center for Student Development.
Feyten said the building’s central location made it a perfect place to showcase the university, adding that its 25 meeting rooms for students provide spaces for activities that are critical for students to develop leadership skills.
“This space meets the strategic goals for the university,” she added.
Monica Mendez-Grant, vice president for student life, called the opening “a great day for the TWU community and a great day for our students.” She noted that work on a new student union actually began in 2012, when students first voted in favor of raising the student union fee to fund a new union. However, the Texas Legislature rejected all collegiate fee increases during that session.
In 2015, 57% of students voted in favor of raising the student union fee to fund a new union in Denton and add new services and amenities to the Dallas and Houston campuses. Grant pointed to Kyle Voyles, former director of the Student Union and current executive director of the Center for Student Development, saying he “was instrumental in our students passing not one referendum, but two referendums.”
Jill Jester, chairperson of the TWU Board of Regents, said that when the students voted to increase the fee, “they were signaling that they were invested in TWU.”
Other speakers included David Sweeten, director of the Student Union and Conference Services, who said he was “excited to be part of this new chapter at TWU,” and Myah Anderson, president of the Student Government Association, who thanked “the students who came before us. It wouldn’t be possible without them.”
Other activities included the dedication of “The Owl of Minera,” a statue sculpted by visual arts faculty member Colby Parsons, a student toast, and a live owl demonstration with “Critterman Dave” (also known as David Kleven), who introduced the crowd to Oakley, a European barn owl. The name, which matches the name of TWU’s mascot, is just a coincidence, he said.
“He was named Oakley long before you named your owl,” the Critterman said.
The celebration continued into the night with the dedication of the Pioneer Wall and a “Black Light Bash” dance in the Southwest Ballroom.
By Karen Garcia
Marketing & Communication