Moving in and moving up

What once was a shopping mall, movie cinema and adolescent loitering zone has now morphed into an elaborate higher-learning facility. After dropping $12 million for the purchase and renovation of 90,000 square feet at the south end of the University Center, the University of Alaska Anchorage will have Student Services functional in Midtown Anchorage by Dec. 3.

A survey of 100 students helped decide the name of the new student services center. The majority of students surveyed voted for the name Enrollment and Financial Services. This will include Enrollment Services, Financial Aid, Budget and Finance and Advising.

“Things are coming together real, real well,” John Dede, director of marketing and communications for University Advancement, said. “We are concentrating a lot on students because they are our clientele.”

The Applied Technology and Workforce Development programs of the Community and Technical College are also scheduled to relocate and be fully operational by early January. Twelve classrooms and labs will fill the long corridor of shops come and gone all the way to the old Round Table Pizza space. Classroom space will occupy 20,600 feet, with additional technology and computer labs. Study areas with Ethernet access and lounge areas with vending machines will also be available for students.

A small bookstore annex, to be called UAA Bookstore – Limited Edition, can be found in the new University Center. Books will be primarily pertinent to the two CTC divisions and the other various classes and labs being offered.

Dede said students can expect a postcard in the mail inviting them to the new facility. For student convenience, a shuttle will run every 30 minutes to the University Center from main campus. Parking at the University Center at this point will be free.

“The biggest change is when they relocate, things will go smoother,” Dede said.

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As students enter through the doors that used to lead to the theater, a large desk and kiosk area will be located to the right. Behind the desk will be staff, called generalists, hired specifically to help direct students and the general public around the complex.

“First go to the huge information desk,” Lori Seagars, coordinator for marketing and advertising, said. “Those people will know everything, where to go and how to do it. They’ll be able to answer all student questions and navigate them around the facility.”

The Wolfcard station will be located directly behind the information desk. Where the movie theater concession stands once were will be computerized self-service stations with registration staff floating for student assistance.

Brim Architecture is responsible for the interior design said to be a retro theme. Pastel colors of avocado green and light lemon yellow dominate the overall scheme. Enrollment and Finance Services extends across the entirety of the old theater and an elevator can bring staff up to a mezzanine of more offices. Account Payable and Grants and Contracts will stay at their current location in the Administration Building on campus.

Classrooms will be assigned on a priority basis. The only dedicated labs thus far are for Architectural and Engineering Technology and Mining and Petroleum Technology Services. A wellhead simulator used for hands-on oil rig experience will be available for students in the MAPTS program.

“This (the move) is very exciting for the university,” Dede said.