Welcome to VU

Valparaiso University’s Duesenberg Welcome Center will be completed in June after months of construction. The Welcome Center will serve as the welcoming ground for prospective students, alumni and visitors. It will be the first time VU will have a place specifically created to welcome its guests.

Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg, alumni of VU, generously donated funds for the new welcome center. The Duesenbergs both received their undergraduate degrees from VU, and Richard went on to receive a law degree from VU's School of Law.

“The main purpose is to be sort of the gateway for all visitors to the university,” said David Fevig, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management. “Most of our visitors are prospective students and their families. However, we will have some alumni and we anticipate people just driving by and walking in. In many ways it’s like a national park visitors center.”

The University’s Admission Department will be housed in the Welcome Center, along with the admission staff. There will be 60 student workers in the building, including aides and tour guides. The university hopes that having all of those involved in Admission in the same place that guests will come to when they arrive will be highly beneficial.

Along with the new Welcome Center comes a new tour being offered at VU designed specifically for alumni. Student tour guides will be trained to give these tours that highlight some important buildings and landmarks that no longer exist on campus and to help show alumni how exactly campus has changed.

A key feature of the Duesenberg Welcome Center is the exhibits that will be displayed in the lobby. The exhibits will profile the history of the university, the pillars of excellence (highlighting scholars, athletes, artists and service), the Chapel of the Resurrection and the Duesenbergs. The lobby will also include an interactive map that includes both past and present buildings and features of campus. Tours and explanations of the exhibits will be the new start of all campus tours.

The Duesenberg Welcome Center will also be known for its spectacular views because of the floor-to-ceiling windows. The views from the lobby, presentation room and another meeting room are especially beautiful.

“The view from the windows in the presentation room is the Christopher Center and the Chapel. You can also see a little bit of Kretzmann and the Harre Union sneaking out around the chapel. It’s just beautiful,” said Barbara Lieske, Director of Admission Programs and the VU Admission Network. “It’s an impressive room.”

The lobby includes a sixteen-and-a-half foot tall mosaic wall by artist Mark Anschutz of the Center for Liturgical Art in Omaha, Neb. The piece is titled “Lightfall” and is meant to show the gifts of Heaven falling down on the university. The mosaic wall will be directly behind the reception desk and wrap around the corner of the wall, leading down the hallway. It will be a focal point of the room.

Lieske also explained that the new Welcome Center is going to be a clean, green building. A new imaging system is going to be put in place to make the Admission Department paperless. This will be a very big step in VU's stride to go green. The center has also adopted a very interesting “green” option.

“None of us are going to have garbage cans. Our intent is that the welcome center be a pilot building for other administrative buildings to show that you don’t need to have a garbage can under your desk. Everything can be recycled or shredded,” Lieske said. “Garbage, Kleenex, or your lunch wrapper can get you up out of your chair to throw it in a common spot down the hall.”

There will also be a sidewalk connecting the university’s “Kissing Bridge” to the Duesenberg Welcome Center’s patio. There has never been a convenient way to get to the bridge, and the advising committee thinks that this is something the alumni will appreciate.

“It’s right by US-30, it’s right by what’s considered the main entrance. It’s going to make it much easier for people to visit us and really showcase who we are,” Fevig said. “I think it’s just going to make the visitors’ experience a lot better, which should translate into enrollment and a few other things that we like.”

The Admission staff will be moving into the building on June 3. There will be an open house for the campus on June 19 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., and students are welcome to attend. The dedication of the Duesenberg Welcome Center will be during the 2013 Homecoming weekend on Sept. 28.

Contact Morgan Bell at torch@valpo.edu.

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