WSU has a new “front door,” in the form of the recently dedicated Marcus Welcome Center. The center sits on the site of the former Marcus Center for Continuing Education, and the Marcus family has again proven to be one of the “right ingredients” for success.
Funding for the Marcus Center for Continuing Education, completed in 1974, was anchored by a gift from Sam and Milly Marcus. Their son Howard and his wife Rose made the lead donation for the new Marcus building, thus continuing the family’s tradition of supporting Wichita State. Impressively, nearly 150 other donors followed the Marcuses’ generous lead.
At the dedication of the continuing education center, WSU President Clark Ahlberg said the building “fulfills a long unmet need and provides the university with an enlarged opportunity for educational service.”
Ron Kopita, vice president for student affairs, echoed those sentiments at the May 23 dedication of the welcome center, saying, “This building will allow the university to, first of all, serve the students, and second, to put students first.”
The center will act as the welcoming point of the university, providing an easy-to-access location and affording a beautiful first impression. Greeting visitors upon entrance to the building is a plasma video wall, an apt technological update of the hand-written messages scrawled on a whiteboard that once sat outside the admissions offices in Jardine Hall. The entrance lobby also showcases six interactive plasma-screen monitors, each of which tells a unique university story. The stories cover topics ranging from athletics to academic colleges to Shocker student life.
Paige Paladino, president of WSU’s Student Ambassador Society, says, “Prospective students can really get a feel for the traditions of the university through the interactive displays.” Andrew Myers, undergraduate admissions representative, adds, “From a prospective student’s point of view, if I walked into this building and saw all the technology, I’d know the university was successful.”
The center houses such key university offices as scholarships and admissions. In addition, the Milly Marcus Garden Patio, with its comfortable benches and fountain, offers a beautiful outdoor spot perfect for quiet reflection. The garden is a tribute to Milly, who was known as the “tulip lady” because of her charitable work selling many thousands of tulip bulbs to support Temple Emanu-El.
The potential for promoting WSU is readily recognized as one of the benefits of the new center. Howard Marcus, for instance, expects the building to help potential students see how “wonderful the university is.” Kopita adds that the center will certainly serve as a focal point for dynamic new efforts in student recruitment. The welcome center will also open its doors to the wider community. One example is its 100-seat auditorium, which can be used for campus and community gatherings.
Ahlberg recognized the foresight of Sam Marcus in understanding the need for lifelong learning. During welcome center dedication ceremonies, Howard Marcus shared his belief in the power of higher education. He related that one answer to the ever-rising costs of college is getting scholarship money into the hands of students who need it; scholarship offices in the new center, he said, will assist in realizing that goal.
In his dedication remarks, WSU President Don Beggs hn ’05 shared a story acknowledging the frustration of students who had difficulty finding admissions offices when housed in Jardine Hall. When he first arrived on campus, he reported, he was also confused by the campus layout; the welcome center should prevent future students from sharing that experience.
“We take great pride in the beauty of the campus,” Beggs said. “We’ve really undertaken an effort to do the right thing for the university.”