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New Director Envisions Campus Center for Entire Community

Though the new, much-anticipated Smith College Campus Center is months away from completion and still encircled by a construction fence and heavy equipment, Dawn Mays-Floyd, director of the Campus Center, is discovering what the facility will soon mean to the college.

“The Campus Center is really a space for the entire community,” says Mays-Floyd, who began at Smith on February 17, in her temporary office in Clark Hall. Students interact formally with faculty members in class and with some staff members in their residences, says Mays-Floyd, “but where else is there on campus for everyone to come together formally and informally?”

Scheduled to be “fully functional” by its opening on August 25, says Mays-Floyd, the 56,000-square-foot center will accommodate the Grécourt Bookshop, the mailroom, a café, the campus radio station WOZQ, a faculty/staff lounge, offices for the center staff and for SGA, and a performance/meeting space with a capacity of several hundred people.

With ambitious plans for programming at the center, including specialized events for first-year students and their advisers, a student-nominated faculty series and a monthly event specifically for faculty and staff members, Mays-Floyd envisions a facility that will offer something for everyone.

“We intend to complete the Smith experience,” says Mays-Floyd, “through staff- and student-initiated programs that will be social, recreational and educational in nature.”

Mays-Floyd knows firsthand the importance such a facility can have for a campus. Having come to Smith from the University of North Carolina–Greensboro--a 13,000-student campus with its own 190,000-square-foot university center--where she was the associate director of student life, she knows that a campus center can become an institution’s focal point.

She also spent four years at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, which has 15,000 students, as assistant director, then director, of student activities. Having received her master’s degree at Bowling Green, Mays-Floyd experienced the vitality of its campus center from a student perspective as well.

Smith, however, as a private women’s college with a considerably smaller enrollment, differs from her previous employers. Also, she points out, Smith’s Campus Center will be the college’s first such facility and will likely take on its own unique function for the college.

In coming to Smith, Mays-Floyd is returning to her regional roots, having grown up in Worcester and completed her undergraduate studies at Framingham State College in eastern Massachusetts.

She appreciates so far the level of anticipation at Smith for the facility she will run. “Students and staff are really excited about the Campus Center,” says Mays-Floyd, who has conducted numerous hard-hat tours of the unfinished building. “It’s been great to meet so many people who are excited about what this center will do for the campus.”

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