If you haven’t visited campus in awhile, you’re in for a treat when you step into the newly renovated and expanded Trone Student Center. As Furman President Carl Kohrt ’65 described, the center is the “latest jewel on this magnificent campus” and serves as a reminder that “at Furman, the experiences of our students come first.”
Now, students, faculty, staff and campus visitors have a comfortable place to meet, eat, chat and hang out. The Trone Student Center provides ample meeting space, cutting-edge technology to include a 110” video screen in the bright and open Hill Atrium, comfortable seating, a new restaurant, spectacular views of Furman Lake and other features that benefit student life on campus.
David ‘77 and June Trone, for whom the center is named, feel it is important to give back to the communities in which they work, play and live. With daughter Julia graduating from Furman in 2012, and with David serving on Furman’s Board of Trustees, the university rose to the top of their list.
“One of the key features of this building is how it pulls everything together,” said David Trone. “The academic experience outside the classroom, the career services, internships, study abroad, research—all the parts of engaged learning come together to add value to the Furman experience.”
In addition to renovating the existing building, 6,000 square feet were added to help integrate academic and student life. Several departments and offices were relocated, and the Trone Student Center now houses the Cothran Center for Vocational Reflection, Shucker Center for Leadership Development, Career Services, Johnson Center for Engaged Learning, Rinker Center for Study Away and International Education, Heller Service Corps and the Office of Student Life.
Students also come to the Trone Student Center for student organization meetings such as Furman University Student Activities Board (FUSAB) and Greek life, or to work in the student media suite, participate in small group study, grab a meal, browse through Barnes & Noble or watch a movie at Burgiss Theater.
Connie Carson, Vice President for Student Life, said, “We knew this was an opportunity to give the building back to the students for interaction and collaboration. With 96 percent of students living on campus all four years, we needed a place that’s not only [the students’] academic home, but their ‘home away from home’—a place where they can live, eat and engage with each other inside and outside the classroom.”
A Family Room for All
During the building dedication on Sept. 19, Student Government Association President Brian Boda ‘14 thanked the donors for providing a “family room” for the students.
“Furman is a place where students reside—we develop, we learn, but most importantly, where we choose to live,” said Boda. “It is a place with which we choose to surround ourselves. This year, I’ve repeatedly referred to Furman as my home, and to continue with my extended metaphor, you’ve built us a family room. The Trone Student Center is now a place where we can leave the stresses of academic life and become more than students, and at times, real people. It is a place where we can kick back, but it is also a place where we can run all of the amazing organizations that bring pride to this university. Students have embraced this university, and we are thrilled with what this center for student life has become.”
The “family room” extends outdoors to include Hill Courtyard (named for Furman Trustee Robert Hill ’83 and wife Margaret Platt Hill ‘83), shade pavilions, Point of View fire pit and a boardwalk overlooking Furman Lake. FUSAB President Anne Murtha ’14 indicated several concerts have already been held in Hill Courtyard, and their group plans to utilize the fire pit and other areas of the student center for more activities and programming.
Grabbing a Bite to Eat
The Paddock is Furman’s first on-campus full-service restaurant, and includes a patio overlooking Furman Lake.
Scott Derrick ‘88, director of the Trone Student Center, said the vision for the restaurant was one of a multi-functional space.
“The Paddock is a restaurant first, which happens to have a bar,” he said. “We envisioned multiple seating options, from booths to small tables to small nooks and more, as well as an outdoor deck for additional dining in a beautiful setting.”
Seating is mobile so the restaurant can host trivia nights, open mic nights, karaoke and more.
“This will be the on-campus, late-night option for students,” Derrick added.
The PalaDen food court is still located in the student center, with most of the same options and a new “grab and go” section. And, have no fear, the ever-popular Caesar Wraps are still available.
The Trone Student Center has made a giant leap forward in technology in that students no longer check physical mailboxes: they are notified via email when mail or packages arrive. Furman is only the second university in the country to move to digital mail handling.
“We feel the step forward we made from the old post office is revolutionary,” added Derrick. “By condensing services and space, and using technology, we can give students a glance into the future of mail services.”
The copy and print center is still available in the post office area, and the removal of mailboxes provided space for a game area to include ping pong, pool and several video games.
Overall Traffic and Usage
While it is too early to capture specific traffic numbers, staff indicates that overall numbers at Trone Student Center seem to have increased. For example, the Career Services Office was repositioned at the entrance of the center to become easily accessible and more visible to the Furman community. Within the first month of school, this office has seen a remarkable increase in usage.
“We put Career Services and internships in a visible spot to illustrate that Furman is concerned about your whole life,” said Carson. “The Career Service numbers have gone up so fast for individual appointments they are rethinking how they handle the volume. That is a result of this foot traffic and change of venue.”
Derrick is confident the revitalized student center will have a positive impact on students now and into the future.
“Having a hub of student life, full of energy and brimming with innovation, is the best way we can distinguish Furman from its competitors,” he said. “The openness and brightness of the Trone Student Center is inviting, and, once prospective students and families are in the building, they see the activities and resources that are here. We also offer a highly personal touch in all that we do, so this coupling makes our facility doubly inviting.”