Millennium Student Center celebrates 15 years at the heart of campus life

UMSL's Millennium Student Center

UMSL’s aptly named Millennium Student Center, which first opened its doors to the campus community in 2000, celebrates its 15th anniversary this week. (Photos by August Jennewein)

On a typical day, upwards of 8,000 people visit the Millennium Student Center on the University of Missouri–St. Louis’s North Campus. The facility marks 15 years this week as a buzzing hub of university activity.

“It’s represented change, growth and a new era of students,” said Benard Diggs, who has overseen the MSC on a day-to-day basis since construction on it finished in 2000. “I think with a center of this type taking shape, it really made us feel more like a university – not that we weren’t a university before – but it actually showed the growth and how far we’ve come.”

Director of the Millennium Student Center Benard Diggs

Benard Diggs, longtime director of the Millennium Student Center, is also celebrating his retirement Oct. 1.

The result of students years ago pushing for a place that would serve as a one-stop shop for everything from registration and textbooks to food and relaxation, the MSC has grown to be all that and more.

“You can go upstairs and take a nap, or you can go downstairs and eat,” said Sage Hayes, a junior theater and dance major who added that she also appreciates the “comfy chairs,” one of which she was enjoying near the escalator on a recent morning.

Diggs, who is retiring this fall as director of the MSC, said he and his staff have worked hard to foster an atmosphere that feels like the center of the campus community.

“Everything we do is centered around making our students happy, and we have a really diverse student population,” he said. “We’re constantly finding ways to make it work for everybody. My focus is being an advocate for students.”

The recent addition of Triton Treats to the second floor of the MSC is just one example. When students voiced a desire for a frozen-yogurt joint in the center, staff members found a way to bring it to fruition.

“Students tell me it’s a great building,” Diggs said of the feedback he’s received about the center during its 15-year existence. “They feel at home here – that it is the living room of the campus, where they can just chill out.”

From Sept. 28 to Oct. 2, the campus community is invited to celebrate the MSC’s 15th anniversary with festivities throughout the week. Beginning with a kickoff – including a “huge balloon drop,” according to Diggs – from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, the fun continues over the lunch hour Tuesday with Make Your Mark, during which students, faculty and staff can share their fondest memories of the MSC on a memory wall set up on the Nosh stage.

“We will probably store it somewhere for the next 15 years,” Diggs said.

The Center of It All, on Wednesday, will feature dueling pianos and sweet treats, and at 4 p.m. Thursday a reception will take place in the third floor rotunda.

The celebrations wrap up at 3 p.m. Friday with a tailgate party in the north plaza (between the MSC and the Recreation and Wellness Center) before the UMSL Tritons take on the Drury University Panthers that evening.

The UMSL Experience

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