Rayburn Student Center
The student center is home to a variety of campus events and activities that enhance the college experience. Students can grab a cup of coffee on their way to class, or enjoy a meal with friends at the university cafeteria. In The Club, students have the option to play games, listen to music or just hang out and study. Across the hall, the university bookstore boasts a plethora of Lion souvenirs, textbooks and last-minute items for class.
by Savannah Christian
The Rayburn Student Center became an instant landmark on the Texas A&M University-Commerce campus in January of 2009, and from the beginning, met its designed purpose for being the hub of student activity and the crossroads for university wide involvement. The building recently celebrated its third birthday and continues to add a vibrancy to campus life that draws students, faculty, staff, and alumni together.
“Texas A&M University-Commerce has experienced phenomenal growth over the years,” said Connie Mears, associate director of operations and special events. “I am so proud to be an employee of the university and see first-hand the major changes we have gone through.”
According to Wendy Morgan, director of the Rayburn Student Center, the construction and transition into the new building from the antiquated Memorial Student Center was simply a solution for a better way to serve the rapidly growing campus population.
“The student center was designed to accommodate and service the needs of an expanding campus and an ever-increasing number of students,” Wendy said. “The new building provides amenities that the Memorial Student Center was not capable of in terms of technology, retail services and a vibrant student life. The new center is state-of-the-art and remains student focused.”
The building, founded upon the belief that students need a place to go where they can meet up, escape from the rigors of the classroom and easily access services, has become the center of activity on campus truly bringing together students, faculty and staff alike.
“We are the focal point of campus,” Connie said. “It is a place where students can be students and have fun. Our RSC staff members are amazing because they are so gifted and truly love working with and encouraging students develop full and active lives.”
With its contemporary architecture and technology, the RSC, provides an enjoyable atmosphere with endless possibilities, and amenities that promote a vital campus life.
“The new student center is a lot more welcoming,” said Joel Jopson, graduate assistant for The Club in the RSC. “There are many lounges and continuous music. The high ceilings and big rooms make it very inviting, [whereas] in the old student center, everything seemed to be crammed together and very small.”
According to Fadhl Al-Matari, international student and graduate assistant from Yemen, it is essential that A&M-Commerce maintain a common ground for students to grow, learn and flourish.
“The student center provides a comfortable atmosphere for students as they try to familiarize themselves with their new lives on campus,” Fadhl said.
“International students do not know anyone in Commerce, in Texas or even the United States, so they go to a place where people gather, the student center,” he said. “The student center makes [the transition] easier because it helps alleviate loneliness many students initially feel.”
The RSC staff has been so successful in creating a home-away-from-home environment that the facility has become one of the major draws in recruiting new students to campus.
As a result, enrollment is up and plans are being made to expand the RSC to accommodate even more students and provide a wider range of services.
“We are very excited about the upcoming expansion,” Wendy said. “The first floor expansion will allow us to double our seating capacity [in the dining hall], providing approximately 700 seats. Upstairs, we will be able to nearly double the amount of meeting spaces that we currently have as well as provide for some additional growth of student services.”
As A&M-Commerce continues to experience exponential growth, the Rayburn Student Center will grow as well in its ability to serve students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the community, providing a place to meet and build relationships that will last a lifetime.