PULLMAN, Wash. – It is fitting that Washington State University’s newest building — which houses the latest technology and nationally-recognized programs — has been named after President Emeritus Samuel H. Smith.
That was according to WSU President V. Lane Rawlins, who helped dedicate the Smith Center for Undergraduate Education this morning (May 9) in front of audience of nearly 250.
During Smith’s tenure from 1985 to 2000, the construction or funding for this building and nearly 60 others got their start. But Smith identified this building and two others — the Student Recreation Center and Honors Hall — as facilities that would provide exceptional access to higher education.
“We’ve built a place that will not only help teachers to teach better and help us learn more about how students learn, but also be able to do it in a way where technology is there to allow us to have the best facility, and the best education at one of the best universities in the world,” Smith said.
During his presidency, Smith established WSU campuses in Spokane, the Tri-Cities and Vancouver to serve place-bound and job-bound students. Under his leadership, the university also strengthened undergraduate and graduate education and made major strides in research and public service. A national leader in distance education, he was honored as the Justin Smith Morrill Memorial lecturer, given by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and NASULGC for outstanding contemporary leadership in higher education.
The Smith Center houses state-of-the-art classrooms, offices and a host of programs including the General Education Program; Writing Program; student computer technology lab; the Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology; and a Cyber CafÃ©. The shared facility provides better collaboration between the programs housed there and easier accessibility for students.
Features of the building incorporate the latest teaching methods, such as moveable furnishings, seating areas throughout the building for students to interact or study and private rooms for group work.
Peter Mullenix, a recent graduate of WSU who works in the building, said the building helps students by putting important undergraduate programs together in a central place that is “designed to cultivate creativity.”
“Every wall is a whiteboard, every desk is a way to get on the Internet,” Mullenix said.
He described a scenario where a student assigned a project could go to the building for help and receive advice from a variety of skilled teachers and professionals, while using the latest technology.
The 94,000 square foot building includes 20 classrooms – complete with Internet access at every seat – that can accommodate 1,269 students. Those classrooms include two auditoriums with seating for 245 and 109, 12 medium-size classrooms with seating for 36-40, five large classrooms with seating up to 81 students and one computer classroom with seating for 30.
In addition, the building houses a computer technology lab with 63 workstations and additional space for 33 laptops. Wireless computer data network access is available in the lab as well as the computer classroom. And students can check out digital video cameras and camcorders and wireless laptops and reserve time to use graphics, digital video editing and sound/music editing workstations. A Cyber CafÃ© includes Internet access features and seats 31.