© 2023 KRCU Public Radio
90.9 Cape Girardeau | 88.9-HD Ste. Genevieve | 88.7 Poplar Bluff
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The University Center

The University Center
Special Collections & Archives, Southeast Missouri State University
The University Center, c. 1985

We celebrated our centennial in 1973 with quite a bit of buzz on campus. Enrollments were approaching a record 8,000. The college had officially become Southeast Missouri State University the year before in 1972. And the last major construction project of the first hundred years was underway; a vast, new student union to replace the outgrown Memorial Hall. 

In October 1971, the Board of Regents approved plans for a new 100k square foot student union, nearly four times the size of Memorial Hall. Located west of Kent Library on the corner of Normal and Henderson – which meant demolishing the old Leming Hall dormitory first – this new University Center carried a price tag of $4 million, paid for entirely by student fees.

The University Center was completed during the last summer year of Mark Scully’s presidency in 1975, and as the campus’ central commons area - a hub of activity for students and organizations – the UC stands as a something of a capstone for Scully’s tenure.

With modern architectural sensibilities on the exterior, the UC’s split-level interior floorplan contains space for administrative offices, lounges, breakout rooms, highlighted by a 500-person multipurpose ballroom. The open, ground floor has always revolved around a dining hall, and recent renovations reconfigured the cafeteria area into a retail food court and coffee shop. Initially the bottom level featured a bowling alley until it was later repurposed to make room for the university bookstore.

Joel P. Rhodes is a Professor in the History Department of Southeast Missouri State University. Raised in Kansas, he earned a B.S. in Education from the University of Kansas before earning his M.A. and Ph.D. in History from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.