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Overseeing the Bustle of a New Facility

By Jacqui Shine '05 and Eric Sean Weld

Even though Dawn Mays-Floyd, Campus Center director has been here only a few months, she is already discovering what the newly opened facility means to the college. "The Campus Center is really a space for the entire community," says Mays-Floyd, who began at Smith in February, when the facility was still circled by a construction fence and heavy equipment but its potential as a community space was already a source of excitement. Mays-Floyd envisions a facility that will offer activities and respite for everyone and that can become an institutional focal point.

The 56,000-square-foot center, which opened August 25, accommodates the Grécourt Bookshop, the mailroom, a café, the campus radio station WOZQ, offices for the center staff and for the Student Government Association, and a performance/meeting space that can accommodate several hundred people. And while these essential offices ensure that the Campus Center will get a lot of traffic, Mays-Floyd also wants to emphasize its potential to bring people together.

"Students interact formally with faculty members in class and with some staff members in their residences," she says, "but where else is there on campus for everyone to come together formally and informally?"

Mays-Floyd has worked at much larger institutions, including Ohio's Bowling Green State University and the University of North Carolina–Greensboro, where she was the associate director of student life for a 13,000-student campus with its own 190,000-square-foot university center. She notes that Smith students, though they attend a unique institution, aren't so different from college students everywhere.

Students here, as elsewhere, she says, are seeking programming that's "interesting, diverse and includes a mix of educational and fun events." Thus the center's events calendar includes a late-night Halloween party, a women's film festival and monthly programming for first-year students and Residential Life student staff members.

Mays-Floyd included students in every stage of Campus Center programming. Her staff of 25 student employees arrived on campus August 17 to train for their new positions and to help prepare the center for its August 25 opening. "There will also be a Campus Center advisory board that will include students, faculty, and staff and will have input into the programming for the facility," she explains.

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's also experienced the vitality of a campus center from both the student and staff perspectives; after receiving her master's degree from Bowling Green, which has an active campus center, she spent four years as assistant director, then director, of student activities at that 15,000-student campus.

She appreciates so far the level of support at Smith for the facility and its programs. "Students and staff are really excited about the Campus Center," says Mays-Floyd, who conducted numerous hard-hat tours of the unfinished building and has been present for the center's hectic but exciting opening weeks. "It's been great to meet so many people who are excited about what this center will do for the campus," she says. She's especially excited to see how the center will fit into the Smith community once the dust from construction is replaced by the bustle of student life.

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