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Space to grow
Student organizations will gain resources, visibility in new center

Editor's note: This is one in a series of stories on the new Baker University Center.

Nov. 6, 2006
By Elizabeth Boyle and Melissa Evans 

Student organizations soon will have a new home -- on the third floor of Baker University Center -- that is triple the size of their current accommodations. The new center offers office space to 39 groups and valuable resources to all student groups.

Student leadership center bears a role model's name

Amanda Cunningham photo by Rick FaticaAmanda Cunningham was a model student leader and a driving force in the planning of Baker University Center. The naming of the facility's student leadership center in her honor is a fitting tribute.

Cunningham's death in a car accident in May 2003, a little more than a month before she would have graduated, created a sense of emptiness within the Ohio University community. 

"Amanda worked tirelessly to make the university center a reality," says Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Richard Carpinelli. "As a member of the design team, her strong influence on behalf of all students on campus is evident in the early design documents of the center project."

Cunningham served as president of the senior class, director of university relations for Student Senate and co-chair of the Student Campaign Advancement Committee. She also was a member of Kappa Phi and the University Planning and Advisory Council, and she helped coordinate the 9/11 campus vigils.

Those who knew Cunningham remember her as one of the most dedicated students on campus. She approached each day with an emphasis on how she could best serve others, and her immense talents were matched by her humility and sincerity.

"I think Amanda affected more positive change in 23 years than most people do in their entire lives," then-Student Senate President Katherine Smith said at the time. "She was a skilled student advocate and a dear friend. She touched the lives of every student at Ohio University, whether they are aware of it or not."

Cunningham was posthumously named an Ohio University Outstanding Senior Leader and was awarded a bachelor of business administration degree in June 2003.

The formal dedication of the Amanda Cunningham Leadership Center is scheduled for May 12, 2007. 

The university center, which opens Jan. 2, will connect the upper and lower sections of campus, creating a logical pedestrian path and added exposure to student organizations' activities. The shared location means the groups, currently spread across campus, will have more opportunities to work together. 

"We'll see much more collaboration from departments, more involvement from students," says Danita Brown, associate director of campus life. "It will definitely build a sense of community."

Thirteen organizations in the areas of student media, programming, student governance and Greek governance will have permanent office space. An additional 26 student organizations will occupy 13 offices, which will be assigned early winter quarter. Each of those offices has two workstations and rolling file cabinets.

Also helping to keep groups organized: Mailboxes will be available to 320 organizations, and groups that do not have office space can apply for a storage cabinet. Previously, mail typically went to the personal addresses of organizations' presidents; the new approach offers more continuity.

The proximity of Student Affairs, which includes Campus Life, Residence Life, LGBT Center and others, will provide further support for student groups, and the function of the Bursar's Office that handles student organization accounts will be in the center as well. 

Andie Walla, programming director for the All-Campus Radio Network, is looking forward to working closely with other on-campus media. The Post, ACRN, Athena yearbook and Athens Video Works are conveniently grouped in a student media suite.

"Now being side-by-side, we hope to be more in tune with what each group is doing," Walla says.

ACRN previously broadcast from a small studio in the Radio-Television Building. Walla is excited about her group's new booth, which has a window through which passersby can see DJs at work. 

"We'll get more exposure in the new Baker and more people to see what we're about," she says. "I hope it will bring more listeners."

Photo by Rick FaticaGovernance groups such as Student Senate, which is moving from the old Baker University Center, also are eager for the opportunity for more collaboration.

"The student organizations we fund will have better meeting space," says Morgan Allen, president of Student Senate. "And we'll be really close to the media wing, so we can work on getting our message out to the student body better."

Dominic Barbato, president of Graduate Student Senate, which is moving from cramped quarters in Lindley Hall, agrees. 

"We've been working a lot more closely with Student Senate this year than in the past," Barbato says. "In the new center, we'll be right across the hall from them, and it'll make it much easier." 

Around the corner from student organization offices will be the Amanda Cunningham Leadership Center, which is named for an Ohio University student leader killed in a car accident before graduating in 2003. The area will have work tables and chairs, a copier, fax, moveable storage cubbies and a lounge nearby. Peer advisers and a leadership library will be on hand, too.

"It will be tremendous in terms of having impromptu space," Danita Brown says. "It'll be a place to gain information on leadership theories, how to make your organization better, recruit, develop marketing or plan for an event."

Another benefit of the new location? Career Services is right upstairs, so students can easily visit that office for advice on how to frame their newly honed leadership skills on their resumes. 

Elizabeth Boyle and Melissa Evans are writers for University Communications and Marketing.     

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Published: Nov 6, 2006 8:33:32 AM
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