At 50, Kent Student Center Is Still the Heartbeat of the Campus
The Kent Student Center was built nearly 50 years ago as a much-needed facility for a growing university. And now it continues to be the heartbeat of the campus, offering students, faculty and staff restaurants, entertainment venues and spaces for studying, meeting and socializing.
As the student center staff and administration plan fun and nostalgic events leading up to the facility’s golden anniversary in January 2023, there is a sense that through the years, the building has gotten older in years, but better with age.
“I have worked within the Kent Student Center for 24 years, and from my experience, the Kent Student Center continues to adapt the building and services to meet the needs of the current and future Kent State University student,” said Ann Myers, associate director of the Kent Student Center and Involvement. “Some examples are the addition of the entrance on Midway Drive when the Centennial residence halls were built, to give our students access to the building from the north; and the multiple renovations of the lower level from a pool hall to a bright and vibrant lounge space that has private and group study space; to our latest renovation of our student leader suite. As we celebrate the past, I am excited to see the future of the Kent Student Center.”
To celebrate this golden milestone, the Kent Student Center will host a grand reopening of the Rathskeller Stage on Friday, Sept. 30, from 4-7 p.m. on the lower level of the center. Students, faculty, alumni and guests will be able to sample free food from the university’s new kitchen partner, Tahini Mediterranean Cuisine. There will also be a bar and a disc jockey from Black Squirrel Radio spinning tunes.
The next big event will be held from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 7, the 50th day of classes, on the main level of the student center. The event will include games, prizes, giveaways, discounts on food and the grand opening of another food venue in the Kent Student Center Hub.
The Kent Student Center opened as the University Center in January 1973 as the largest student union east of the Mississippi River and the sixth largest in the nation. The center cost $12.5 million to construct.
At its opening, the center was touted as a place that added a “new dimension to food service capabilities,” with its snack bar that could accommodate 1,000 students, second floor cafeteria for diners and The Schwebel Garden Room on the third floor, in addition to the Rathskeller on the lower level, with room for 500 people plus a dance floor, a small stage and a bar.
The new center was described as a symbol of a progressing Kent State that provides a gathering place for faculty and students and a needed home for student organizations and student government.
And to this day, it is all that and more.