May 19, 2024

By fall 2016, a new center for students’ academic success may be opening. The Center for Engaged Learning (CEL) was proposed to student senate in Nov. 2014 as an addition to campus that would especially benefit first-year students, according to faculty-student coordinator, senior Michael Southard.
The idea is that the CEL will bring different academic aids, such as career services, the office of international education, student employment and more into one common area, rather than being spread across the different academic buildings on campus.
“Primarily, this is targeting first-year students who don’t know campus as well as seniors do. And these are the students who so desperately need these services,” Southard said. “But when we tell them to go half way across campus, as a first-year student [they] don’t know where it is, and it’s really intimidating.”
Over the past year, student senate representatives, class presidents and staff members have worked to fund, problem-solve and plan many details of this project. Currently, the committee is interested in repurposing part of the first floor of the library in order to have the CEL in a central location.
Other colleges such as Wooster and Otterbein have similar facilities with great success, according to Southard who, along with other committee members, visited and questioned students utilizing the centers.
“It complimented the library, and the library complimented it,” Southard noted.
He continued by stating that students who visited the library in turn utilized the CEL and those who used the CEL then spent more time the library. The committee expects the same success at Wittenberg.
This project will go into action this summer if all goes according to plan, requiring only six to eight weeks for construction. The committee now wants to reach out to Wittenberg students in order to see if this facility is of interest to the campus.
Over the next few weeks, focus groups, such as success ambassadors, resident advisors and a random sample of students will be asked a series of questions in order to gauge interest.
If the focus groups result in positive feedback, the committee will further the project by finalizing the location and selecting a contractor.
Currently, all three potential contractors have given estimates lower than the budget proposed by the committee, which was $475,000.
Additionally, the Center for Engaged Learning will be a 24-hour building, making it the second building on campus with all-hour access.
Student senate decided that Hollenbeck should not be the only 24-hour building, as many students use this building during exam week, making it difficult to find a late night place to study.
While the CEL is not yet finalized, specifically in terms of location, students will be involved over the course of the semester in order to determine its significance for the Wittenberg experience.
If students have any questions or ideas for the Center for Engaged Learning, they can reach out to Southard or other student senate representatives.

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