Counseling and Academic Resource Center rendering

University to begin construction on new student services building

By UM News

University to begin construction on new student services building

By UM News
The three-story, 30,000-square-foot facility will transform how students access vital campus services.

From its academic support and financial aid resources to its mental health and well-being initiatives, the University of Miami offers a wide range of programs and services to ensure that students are supported and successful during their time on campus. To assist students in more easily accessing these resources, and enact the vision of operational efficiency as outlined in its strategic plan Roadmap to our New Century, the University is embarking on a new project that will bring together several campus services that students use regularly throughout the semester.

“The ‘Miami Shuffle’ is the term I’ve heard most often for challenges students encounter when trying to locate vital services on campus and this project seeks to eliminate it once and for all,” said Jacqueline A. Travisano, executive vice president for business and finance and chief operating officer. “This new endeavor will enhance the student experience on campus and create a welcoming place where we will provide easy, convenient and best-in-class service to our students.”

Night renderingAlthough final plans are still being developed, the three-story, 30,000-square-foot facility will be home to a new “one-stop” center for student-facing service departments, the Camner Center for Academic Resources and the Counseling Center. The building will be located near the Mahoney-Pearson dining hall behind the Lowe Art Museum. Additionally, the current Counseling Center building will be demolished to make room for an improved entryway to the new Student Housing Village and Pavia Parking Garage.

Plans for the “one-stop” center include a highly trained staff of campus generalists with the ability to answer student questions related to a variety of topics. It will serve as a centralized location for students to make payments to their student accounts, lift a hold from their academic records, receive information regarding financial aid and course registration and complete other transactions such as obtaining a 'Cane Card. In addition to its physical location on the first floor of the new building, the “one-stop” center will also make use of new technologies to improve the user experience on student information systems and websites.

The second floor of the building will house the Camner Center for Academic Resources, which will relocate from its present location in the Whitten University Center. With its core focus on supporting students academically and working directly with faculty, the new space will allow for expanded and enhanced programming and will afford the center the opportunity to serve more students with a variety of customized academic services.

“Our new center will incorporate new technologies that will enable students to access our services in many new ways,” said Mykel Billups, assistant dean for academic support services. “And with a blend of group and individual study areas, the new space will be tailored to meet our center’s programming needs as well as the needs of our students.”

Designed for growth in both staff and programing, the third floor of the building will be reserved exclusively for the Counseling Center. In this new space, the center will be able to host workshops and group sessions, provide training to doctoral students through its American Psychosocial Association accredited training program, and offer other services.

“Colleges and universities across the country have seen an increase in mental health challenges facing their students, and the University of Miami is no different,” said Patricia A. Whitely, vice president for student affairs. “Our Counseling Center staff has done a phenomenal job supporting and advocating for our 'Canes, but they are quickly outgrowing their space. This new facility, combined with other student services, will allow the Counseling Center staff the ability to provide the best care to our students.”

Counseling Outreach Peer Education (COPE), whose members are undergraduate students with a passion for tackling college mental health issues, will also gain much-needed programming and meeting space in the new building.

“The new center will continue our efforts to de-stigmatize the need for mental health support for students,” said Rene Monteagudo, director of the Counseling Center. “We have designed our new space to allow our counselors, other staff members and peer educators to be innovative in their approach to supporting the campus community.”

The University has partnered with CIVICA Architecture to design the building, and the total project is estimated to cost $15 million. By including various technical and passive design elements aimed at addressing the climatic challenges of buildings in South Florida’s tropical environment, the project is expected to obtain LEED Silver certification.

Construction is expected to begin in May 2019.