On Sept. 26, the UC Davis Welcome Center opened its doors. Features of the Welcome Center include an interactive wall for campus resources and advising, as well as larger space devoted solely to attracting new students. According to Walter Robinson, executive director of undergraduate admissions, no other UC has a space like this.
The approved budget of the Welcome Center was $2.8 million. According to Julia Ann Easley, the UC Davis senior public information representative, the project was funded by campus funds such as short-term interest earnings. Easley claims the University did not use student tuition, student fees or state funds for the construction of the Welcome Center.
According to Clayton Halliday, the campus architect in design and construction management at UC Davis, the Welcome Center was built with excavated earth under the Graduate School of Management and Conference Center.
One of the larger installments in the Welcome Center is the interactive touch screen wall, which allows visitors to learn additional information about the University and email that information to themselves as they explore. This interactive touch screen wall cost $311,000, and the cost of installation and related work was $125,000.
“The interactive touch screen is a neat little feature to the Welcome Center because it allows students to look up information as far as majors, any organizations on campus, any clubs, student life, and get more information on all that,” said Stephanie Hartfield, Welcome Center tour manager.
The approximate annual energy consumption for the touch wall is 12,500 kilowatthours, and the approximate annual cost to provide the energy is $1,000. According to Easley, the campus has sufficient experts to ensure the touch wall is functioning properly after the one-year warranty period.
Before the Welcome Center, campus tours were previously dispatched from the Walter A. Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center. According to Hartfield, what differentiates the Welcome Center is that it provides advising in addition to tours.
Samantha Novan, the undergraduate events manager, claims the larger space enables smaller and more specialized tours to come through.
Lanette Bingaman, Welcome Center admissions manager, said that the one-stop shop aspect of the Welcome Center will create a good impression of the university for visitors by saving their time and allowing them to enjoy their experience. She claims that this will potentially attract more students.
“I think it will attract more students with the ability to have a one-stop location so students can obtain admissions advising, campus tours, admissions presentations, pick up their literature, receive directions and maps all in one spot. That starts their image of UC Davis as they walk in the door,” Bingaman said.
According to Robinson, the main purpose of the Welcome Center is to serve as the front porch of the university.
“I think with the fact that you only get one chance to make a first impression, we want to make sure that the front porch of the university is in order. We want to make sure that it is impressive and that people walk away with a good feeling about their experience here,” Robinson said.
The Welcome Center is located right off the Interstate 80 and across from the Mondavi Center. According to Novan, due to the Welcome Center being one of the first facilities people notice after pulling off the freeway, it can be easily found and accessed.
“I believe going forward this will become their first stop no matter where they’re heading on campus for a map or for a quick question before they head out to campus. Our hope is that this is an easy-to-find location and that this also attracts new students,” Novan said.
According to Hartfield, the location of the Welcome Center also offers more convenience for schools with large groups.
“It’s a great location. We’ve got a lot of schools that come and visit. They’re able to drop off their students and it makes it a lot easier for tours to go in and out,” Hartfield said.
Robinson expects the new Welcome Center will be a popular facility on campus and successful in attracting new students to the university.
“I believe that this is going to become one of the most popular facilities for various groups, academic departments and programs. It’s already getting a lot of requests. It is a very high tech space. It is a very easy to find space. And I anticipate it’s going to get a lot of use,” Robinson said.