CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Aug. 20, 2014 – St. Agnes Academy High School classmates Abigail Crockett and Anna Ricci of Memphis, Tenn., have already settled in as roommates in the new River Campus Center opening this week at Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus.
“It’s very convenient and very homey,” Ricci said.
“It’s gorgeous,” Crockett added. “I love it. The dorm is so pretty. My parents didn’t want to leave.”
The two new Southeast freshmen and graduates of an all-women’s private high school are among about 70 students who have already settled into their River Campus home in time to get a jumpstart on the fall River Campus theatre and music season. A musical theatre major, Crockett has begun work on the set for the October production of “Hairspray.” Ricci, an acting major, is participating in rehearsals as a member of an ensemble performing in “Hairspray.”
Ricci says the new River Campus Center that features both residential and academic space blends living and learning in a comfortable environment on the banks of the Mississippi River. While the new facility is open to any Southeast student, many housed in the new building are music, art, theatre and dance majors who are now living close to the academic facilities they will frequent. Official move-in day is set for Thursday, Aug. 21.
“It’s fun because when we are all together. We all get along well,” Ricci said. Students have shared interests, she said, “so it works.”
The new 90,000-square-foot, 180-bed River Campus Center is just north of the original Convocation Center and Seminary Building, forming the completion of a River Campus quad. The original River Campus opened in 2007. The new facility adds academic along with residence hall space on the same property. Contractor for the expansion was River City Construction, LLC.
While the new construction offers a new, modern feel, elements of the historic St. Vincent’s College and Seminary, predecessor to the River Campus, are present. The original College sign and bricks from a handball court carved with seminarians’ initials are just inside the foyer, and the exterior red brick meshes with the storied property.
The first floor of the new facility features a 120-seat dining area overlooking the river. It offers continental breakfast, retail-style lunch and cafeteria-style dinner Monday-Friday, along with family style dinners on weekend nights. An outdoor seating area on the east side of the building is still in progress with completion set for late September.
The first floor of the new building also includes a directing/acting blackbox studio, a dance studio with a sprung floor, a spacious choral rehearsal room and sectional practice rooms. An art education classroom is located on the mezzanine, and part of the second floor houses acting/directing, music, art and dance faculty offices.
“The (River Campus) faculty and staff are really pleased and anxious to get going” in their new space, said Angela Meyer, director of Facilities Management.
“The new River Campus expansion is a wonderful asset to our academic programs. The studio spaces are large with excellent acoustics, and are a boost to our quality of instruction and student learning,” said Rhonda Weller-Stilson, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and director of the Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts.
“We’ve already begun rehearsals for Hairspray this week with 35 students, one faculty professional and three community members in the cast,” she said. “The space (acting/directing studio) can easily accommodate the large ensemble.”
“They (students) love it,” she said. “It provides plenty of space, but allows for the group to feel connected.”
The majority of the second and all of the third floor are four-person student suites featuring two, two-person bedrooms, each with bunkable and loftable beds, two desks, two dressers and two closets. Each suite also has a living area with a 32-inch wall-mounted television, a shared kitchenette area that includes a full-size refrigerator, microwave oven and sink, and a shared bathroom. The suites are secured with card key access for residents only.
Two practice rooms, laundry facilities and spacious lounges with full kitchen facilities and a pool table are located on both the second and third floors. A fitness center with treadmills, stationary bicycles, free weights and cardio balls is located on the third floor and is open to River Campus Center residents and River Campus faculty with Student Recreation Center memberships.
“The students and faculty are ecstatic about their new home,” Weller-Stilson said.