Commuter student center gets national honor
The resource center for commuter students at the University of Illinois at Chicago has received the highest award of excellence from the national association of student affairs professionals.
The association, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (known by its previous acronym, NASPA) last week awarded the center its Gold Excellence Award “for transforming higher education through outstanding programs, innovative services, and effective administration” in the category for off-campus, commuter, and other nontraditional students.
The Commuter Student Resource Center provides a space where commuters can study in quiet, socialize in a lounge, or do homework on public computers and printers. It offers a kitchen, locker rooms with showers, and lactation rooms. A full-time staff provides programming and services to help commuters feel better connected to the campus.
Located on the second floor of UIC’s Student Center East, 750 S. Halsted St., the center opened for fall semester in 2010 and now averages more than 3,000 student-visits per week.
In announcing the award, NASPA noted that the Commuter Student Resource Center “demonstrates excellence in designing a comprehensive program that provides its off-campus students with facilities, services, and programs” necessary for successful academic achievement.
“The students of UIC who identify with this resource are very fortunate to have access to such a wonderful space, a home away from home, and amazing staff resources,” read the citation from a professional colleague at another university, in support of UIC’s nomination.
Commuters make up 85 percent of UIC’s student population. Creating a place specifically for them was a goal in the strategic plan created by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, led by Barbara Henley.
“Our overarching goals were to assist commuting students with feeling connected to the campus and each other while highlighting helpful campus and community resources,” said Kelly McCray, director of student development services. ”Last year, the Commuter Student Resource Center recorded over 66,000 visits, which points to how useful commuter students have found the staff, facilities and programs.”
The center is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays.
NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (www.naspa.org) is the leading association for the student affairs profession, serving the full range of professionals who provide programs, experiences, and services that cultivate student learning and success. Founded in 1919, NASPA comprises more than 13,000 members in all 50 states and 29 countries.
UIC ranks among the nation’s leading research universities and is Chicago’s largest university with 27,500 students, 12,500 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state’s major public medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate, foundation and government partners in hundreds of programs to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world. For more information about UIC, please visit www.uic.edu.