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New center offers a warm welcome to potential Ducks

The University of Oregon has unveiled a new interactive, state-of-the-art Student Welcome Center, a starting point for campus tours that also offers meeting spaces, lounges, residence hall model rooms and a theater for large group presentations.

Located on the north end of DeNorval Unthank Jr. Hall, the UO’s newest residence hall, the Student Welcome Center is more than 10 times the size of its former space, an 833-square-foot presentation room in the Ford Alumni Center. The new location includes more than 8,500 square feet of public-facing space, in addition to offices for student orientation staff.

“Including the word ‘welcome’ in the name is not without reason,” said Roger J. Thompson, vice president for Student Services and Enrollment Management. “We want every prospective student who comes through these doors to feel at home and to know that there is a place for them at the University of Oregon.”

The theme of “home” is amplified throughout the expansive space.

The eastern wing of the center, referred to as The Library, has shelves filled with books, most of them authored by UO faculty members and alumni. Also on display are UO yearbooks and framed profiles of renowned Ducks, and an illustrated wall mural depicts all the majors that Ducks can choose from.

At the opposite end, The Living Room is filled with comfortable couches and chairs where families can relax before and after their tours.

On-campus living is a common question among visitors. They will find answers in three nooks that represent model rooms. Close to scale and based on common room styles, including one with a private bath, the mockups provide examples of how much room is available.

“These models give a sense of size and space, and help prospective students envision what ‘home’ would be like,” said Cora Bennett, director of student orientation programs. “The rooms also substitute for touring through residence halls, so our current students living on campus are not interrupted.”

With 19 room layouts currently available, visitors can explore the other residence hall options with virtual reality headsets, one of many high-tech highlights throughout the facility.

Encouraging exploration and rewarding curiosity, other features of the welcome center include:

  • An Instagram-ready backdrop with interchangeable backlit fabric panels.
  • An “Enchanted Book” that uses infrared remote sensing to project text, images and videos as pages are turned.
  • Lockers that hold videos, recordings and other surprises.
  • A tabletop where visitors can place a pin in a map to indicate their hometown, or write a postcard to a friend or family member.
  • Custom wallpaper, artwork and videos designed and produced by UO creative staff.

The largest room in the welcome center is the theater, which has more than 150 seats plus five spaces for Americans with Disabilities Act accommodation. Wider seats and generous spacing between rows allow for comfortable viewing of the 32-foot-wide digital display screen.

“This Student Welcome Center truly is a showcase of everything the University of Oregon offers, from academics and research to student involvement and campus life,” Thompson said. “By giving our prospective students an overview of life as a Duck, I am confident students and families will come away thinking what we already know: There are a lot of special things about this place.”

By Colleen Schlonga, Student Services and Enrollment Management
—Photos by Marin Stuart, Student Services and Enrollment Management