Seton Hall University will officially cut the ribbon on its new University Center on November 28 at 5:45 p.m., right after Mass and before the annual Christmas Tree lighting.
The renovation of the 60-year-old building was undertaken in alignment with the University's strategic plan, Harvest Our Treasures, which seeks to provide students with "a premier, mission-centered engagement experience."
The building received a top-to-bottom renovation that updated and increased functionality throughout, including the Main Lounge, Living Room, Pirate's Cove, all circulation areas, student club offices, main floor offices, the Faculty Lounge, student dining and the University Club.
As noted, the ribbon-cutting for the remodeled "UC" on the South Orange campus will take place amidst the fanfare and pageantry of "Christmas at the Hall" and the University's yearly tree-lighting ceremony.
"We are doubly blessed this year as we gather together, in-person, to celebrate the joy that is Christmas and the reopening of our transformed University Center," said President Joseph E. Nyre, Ph.D. "This building is the result of shared planning and collective action by the entire Seton Hall community, especially our alumni, whose generosity made the renovation possible. It is truly a gift to the students and future students of Seton Hall: a 21st century home for great minds."
In addition to extensive interior renovations, the building's exterior was dressed in cast stone and bronze glazing to match the architectural cues of other landmark structures on campus. The Center is intended to inspire a fresh visual conversation with the University Green through the addition of two informal outdoor performance/activity areas and spaces for outdoor dining.
"Designed to be inviting and architecturally stunning, the UC renovations have created a dynamic community gathering place," said VP of Student Services, Monica Burnette. "The Center will stand as a vibrant hub at the heart of Seton Hall, using interior and exterior spaces to bring us together in new and exciting ways."
A new media studio, visible from the entry lobby, will be used by Pirate TV, WSOU, Seton Hall Athletics and others. In addition, a theatre and event room was added to accommodate plays, concerts, lectures, gaming tournaments and additional student programming. The University will name the newly renovated theatre lobby (which will also function as an art gallery, student lounge and reception area) "The O'Brien Family Gallery," at the behest of benefactors Jim O'Brien '82 and his wife Judy O'Brien, who announced in May that their family was donating $1 million to the project in honor of Jim's late brother Pat O'Brien, and his widow, Cathy O'Brien, who graduated as valedictorian of Seton Hall in 1992.
A dining-area addition that was completed earlier in the construction process now integrates seamlessly into the more recent renovations. The dining area has been renamed the Bishop Doughtery Dining Room at the request of the project's benefactor, Helen Rados Lerner '76 of Highland Beach, FL, who made an early gift of $1 million to remodel the space. It was the first portion of the project to be completed, increasing the room's overall seating capacity to more than 1,000 to accommodate the growing numbers of students at Seton Hall.
In addition to structural and aesthetic improvements, the renovation created ADA-compliant access through entries at both main façades, allowing pedestrian traffic to go through the building to reach all areas of campus.
To nurture faith on campus more deeply, a new prayer room was added to the building and a cross set atop the building's pinnacle. "We are Catholic," said Vice President for Mission and Ministry Father Colin Kay. "Faith is at the heart of our identity and mission. In ways large and small, this building reflects our faith: our faith in God, our faith in one another, and our faith in the difference we can make, together, in the world."
The extensive renovation of the University Center is just one of many recent infrastructural updates at Seton Hall. In alignment with the University's strategic plan, Harvest Our Treasures, these capital improvements – spread throughout campus – are an additional investment in the Seton Hall community and its students, which is designed to pay dividends now and for many years to come.
Recent improvements include the complete remodeling of Boland Hall South, one of the University's oldest residence halls; the addition of the Boland Hall lobby, a 1,600 sq. ft. entrance and lounge that functions as a dynamic transitional space while improving the flow of pedestrian traffic and increasing ADA accessibility; the extensive refurbishing of Walsh Gymnasium; the renovation and updating of the Stillman School of Business Trading Room; and the construction of Bethany Hall, which serves as a welcome center for both visitors and the University community, offering event space and meeting rooms for students and alumni as well as functioning as the central location for all admissions activities.