The centre of student experiences

After more than two years of construction, the $28.5-million renovation to the Place Riel Student Centre was unveiled on August 18.

The newly expanded and renovated space, now 55,000 square feet thanks to a four-storey addition, was designed to meet the needs of a growing university community and offer non-academic services.

"The building is a major improvement as the front door to the university. It is bigger and newer and offers a great space for the university community to gather and get to know each other," said Scott Hitchings, president of the University of Saskatchewan Students' Union (USSU). "It also offers a better selection of food options that will bring in revenue for the USSU to spend on students."

Beyond the four-storey addition, a few other changes stand out as well. Lower Place now features a wide variety of food outlets, a spacious seating area, the Campus Computer Store, a games room, a convenience store, and the International Student and Study Abroad Centre. Making your way up to the main level, you'll notice that the escalators have been removed and replaced with wide-open staircases.

The main level has been opened up and now houses USSU reception, an information kiosk, a travel agency and a pharmacy. It is also home to the Alumni Wall of Honour that features an interactive touch screen and displays highlighting prominent U of S alumni and donors. The Alumni Wall was constructed to recognize alumni accomplishments as well as the impact donors have on the university and its students.

The second level is designated space for USSU executive and staff and other campus clubs. The third and fourth floors—paid for by the U of S and a donation from Apotex—will house Student Counselling and Student Health Centre, and offer more than twice the previous amount of space.

"Student experience is so important to the U of S. We need to provide them with the means to be successful," said Richard Florizone, vice-president finance and resources and executive sponsor of the project.

"None of this can be done alone. We simply need others and it's only through partnerships that we can achieve incredible things. I am especially excited to announce a new partnership in this project. Apotex has made a gift of two million to the Student Health Centre to make this possible.  In recognition of this gift we are naming this the Apotex Centre."

"Having the student health and counseling centres in one centralized place is great for the students, it allows them to do it all in one place," added Hitchings. "This project has shown that the USSU and university administration can work together and accomplish great things to benefit U of S students."

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