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SHU’s New ‘Crown Jewel’

Take a Guided Tour of the McLaughlin University Center –Through the Eyes of the People Who Use It

By Doug Goodnough

The new “Crown Jewel” of Siena Heights University was sparkling during Homecoming Weekend 2013.

The new $9.1 million McLaughlin University Center was dedicated Oct. 5 as part of the Homecoming celebration on the Adrian campus (picture above).

Major benefactor Mary Spencer and a contingent of more than 30 of her family members joined her to dedicate the facility that was named after her parents, Delbert and Donna McLaughlin. Joining Spencer and SHU President Sister Peg Albert for the ribbon-cutting ceremony were Steve and Sally Hickman of the Hickman Family Foundation, which provided the lead gift for the project.

The McLaughlin Center officially opened its doors on Aug. 1. The 34,000 square-foot student and community facility houses the University’s dining service, which includes a Mongolian-style grill, a snack shop featuring Starbucks coffee and the Barnes & Noble College Bookstore.

SHU Dean for Students Michael Orlando was involved in the early planning of the facility, and he said to see the impact that it has already made has been remarkable.

“This is because students wanted this space on campus,” Orlando said. “It was really refreshing that we were able to modify the design so it did have student input. … Although it’s just a building, it’s an indicator that this is where students are meant to be.”

Since this is a student-and people-centered facility, the staff of Reflections thought it appropriate that the people who use it every day should take readers on a guided “tour” of sorts to show off some of the favorite features.

The tour starts here…

Katy Flint
Katy Flint


Guide: Katy Flint, freshman.

The Scoop: Barnes & Noble moved from its tucked-away location in Archangelus Ballroom to the main floor of the University Center. It has a little bit of everything, including the latest in official Saints gear. Need a bestseller? Book it for your next visit.

Why Katy Likes It: “I work here, which is great. I love all the staff that works here. My mom is the manager so I get to work with her every day. I really like the supply wall. The fact that everything is organized makes it easier to find and it makes it easier to stock. And we have air conditioning, which is great.”

Angel Cooper
Angel Cooper

2—SHU Shop

Guide: Angel Cooper, sophomore.

The Scoop: The new official snack shop offers fresh and pre-prepared food items and a full array of Starbucks Coffee products. Weekday mornings are fun again on campus. And the $6 large pizza deal is hard to beat.

Why Angel Likes It: “I come here probably every day. Campus is now like its own little town and you come here and get coffee or a smoothie. It’s just so convenient for it to be on campus.”

3—Hearth Stone Oven

Najee Brazzle
Najee Brazzle

Guide: Najee Brazzle, junior.

The Scoop: The stone oven produces some of the freshest pizza around. It is an early hit with student diners. The topping combinations are endless. Don’t forget the pasta station around the corner.

Why Najee Likes It: “I get the pizza every time I come. I usually get the pepperoni pizza. It’s my favorite. It has a lot of flavors. You can see them cooking the pizza. It’s pretty nice.”

4—Mongolian Grill

Steven Clark
Steven Clark

Guide: Steven Clark, freshman.

The Scoop: Another early fan favorite, this “circle of flavor” is made right in front of the diner, making for a unique and customized culinary experience. Beef, chicken, pork—and even egg! Or have a combination of them all. Just make sure not to drop your fixings bowl on the floor before handing it to the chef.

Why Steven Likes It: “I like the fact they cook it right in front of you quick and fast. It satisfies my hunger. I get chicken and beef every day. And I get the zesty orange sauce with rice.”

Noah Downs
Noah Downs

5—Living Room

Guide: Noah Downs, freshman.

The Scoop: This welcoming space greets students as they enter the building, and beckons them to sit and watch TV, check their text messages, talk to a classmate or enjoy the warmth of the fireplace. And the monthly Coffeehouse Music Series is an added bonus.

Why Noah Likes It: “I really like the fireplace. It’s just a really nice place to come and study and hang out. I usually like coming out here and just chilling for awhile before I go back up to my room.”

John Jaso
John Jaso

6—Commuter Lounge

Guide: John Jaso, freshman.

The Scoop: A much-needed space for SHU’s commuter student population, this cozy area has locker rooms, a kitchen and a place to nuke meals in a jiffy. No more sitting in the car waiting for the next class.

Why John Likes It: “I spend all my life here. Four or five hours (a day). I like the feel of it. It’s homey. I have a locker here.”

Rebecca Roberts
Rebecca Roberts

7—Clock Tower

Guide: Rebecca Roberts, sophomore.

The Scoop: Now one of the most prominent features on campus – both visually and acoustically—it has become the “alarm clock” for students. And yes, the bells chime on the half-hour. Don’t be late for class!

Why Rebecca Likes It: “You can see it all the way in the art building, and I know what time it is. I can hear (the chimes) all the way behind the Nursing Building during band (practice) so we know when we are allowed to leave.”

Tayler Thelen
Tayler Thelen

8—Fire Pit & Patio

Guide: Tayler Thelen, junior.

The Scoop: An outdoor dining option that can almost be used year around—as long as the fire pit is operational. It is becoming the “back porch” of SHU. Who’s got the marshmallows?

Why Tayler Likes It: “The fireplace is a good mutual meeting spot for students on campus to get-together and do homework or just relax. The chairs are unique. They are kind of relaxing. The fire out here radiates a lot of heat. It feels like you are at home when you are around the fire.”

Gabe Dunbar
Gabe Dunbar

9—The Hub

Guide: Gabe Dunbar, SHU Director of Student Engagement.

The Scoop: Appropriately named, The Hub on the second floor is becoming just that for student organizations on campus. And it’s just a “cool” place for students to plan and organize. Where do we sign up?

Why Gabe Likes It: “One of the things I really like is that it’s a very organic area. A lot of students will stop in and do homework. It also provides a great location for student groups and work-study students to work and organize. And we have ‘the jumble.’ It is our flexible seating. It’s funky and fun.”

Carly Tillotson
Carly Tillotson

10—Water Bottle Filling Station

Guide: Carly Tillotson, sophomore.

The Scoop: One of the more unique and environmentally friendly features in the UC, this machine fills empty water bottles and records how many plastic bottles it’s saving in the process. It may be tucked away upstairs, but students are having no trouble finding it.

Why Carly Likes It: “It saves plastic and it’s helping the environment. I can use my own water bottle so I don’t have to replace the plastic. I use it when I’m up here.”

Elizabeth Padgett
Elizabeth Padgett

11—Workout Room

Guide: Elizabeth Padgett, junior.

The Scoop: Cardio central, this room keeps students fit and allows them a convenient place to work out between classes and homework. The dance room next door is becoming a yoga hot spot, too. It will take your breath away.

Why Elizabeth Likes It: “I work out five or six days a week. It’s great that this is so close to the (Campus Village) apartments. It’s like a 10-step walk.”


To see many more pictures of the McLaughlin University Center, visit our online gallery here.


Mary Anne Yanz

I liked the magazine on line. I especially liked the new University center.
This is a plus for the University.


Where’s the Chapel? Do many students attend Mass?

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