Remodeled University Center better than ever


The remodel of the UC, with its expanded dining hall, new meeting and gathering spaces, and new offices cost $14 million, but took only six months to complete.

A homecoming crowd gathered in front of the University Center October 14 to celebrate the building’s rededication following an intense remodel.

The complete renovation was a first for the building, which dates back to 1970 and originally cost $3.3 million to construct. While the remodel cost significantly more – just over $14 million – it took far less time to complete: six months compared to 15.

Improvements to the facility include an expanded dining hall with restaurant-style seating, new meeting and gathering spaces both inside and out, and new offices for Student Life, ASPLU, student media and Campus Ministry.

At the rededication ceremony, President Loren Anderson praised former president Eugene Wiegman, and his wife Cathy Wiegman, for the vision to first build the University Center.
Board of Regents Chair Robert Gomulkiewicz ’83 added, “This University Center truly is a university center, the center of this university.” In addition to feeding the campus community, the UC also acts as a hub for social and community events.

“I learned a lot in class, that is for sure, but I learned just as much within this University Center,” Gomulkiewicz said, describing how as a student, his conversations with fellow students, faculty and staff helped shape his views on life, religion and leadership.

“That’s the kind of learning that PLU wants our students to have,” he said.

Prominent scholars enlighten campus

September brought two prominent scholars to campus, one for a lecture on the ethical implications of global poverty, and the other for a discussion of how shopping malls have become sites of religious violence.

Philosopher Peter Singer challenged students to think carefully about how they donate.

World-renowned philosopher Peter Singer visited campus Sept. 10 for the Heather Koller Memorial Lecture. He is the Ira DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University and laureate professor at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics.

After trading ideas with an intimate group of 20 students and faculty members over lunch in the UC, he spoke to a standing-room-only crowd in Chris Knutzen Hall on the topic “Global Poverty: What Are Our Obligations?”

The lunch discussion touched on a variety of topics, from the most effective way to control drug addiction to the responsibility of industrialized nations to fight poverty. Singer advocates charitable giving, and he himself gives away 20 percent of his income. He advised students and faculty to choose their causes wisely. 

One week later, religion professor Jon Pahl discussed how shopping malls have become sites of religious violence in a lecture titled “The Desire to Acquire: Shopping Malls, Religious Violence and Actual Places of Grace.”

According to Pahl, sacred places extend beyond the realm of traditional religious sites to those spaces where people express devotion, such as shopping malls and Walt Disney World.
“Most people imagine sacred places as being pilgrimage sites and sacred sites, and I don’t dismiss that. But I believe that religion morphs,” Pahl said. “I’m willing to consider the actual behavior of people in places rather than what religious authorities or officials say they ought to be doing … I’m more interested in lived religion.”

Pahl is a professor of the history of Christianity at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, and a visiting professor of religion at Temple and Princeton universities. His lecture marked the second annual David and Marilyn Knutson Lecture/Lutheran Heritage Lecture.

University’s future is full of possibilities and purpose

President Loren Anderson announced PLU’s future looks bright during the annual University Conference, which traditionally kicks off the academic year.

“There are very good reasons for our confidence and hopefulness. They make it my honor and privilege to report to you that the state of the university is sound and vibrant, and the future is bright as we enter the 2007-2008 academic year, the 118th year in the life of Pacific Lutheran University,” Anderson announced.

He ushered in the year with his annual State of the University address. Titled “The Big Here and Long Now: People, Possibilities and Purpose,” his talk recognized the successes of faculty and staff over the past year, reflected on the university’s ability to build on those accomplishments and expressed his belief that PLU’s successes arise from its clear mission, vision and purpose.

The conference also featured special guest Tom Christianson, a philosophy professor at Capital University in Ohio, who discussed why Lutheran colleges and universities are needed in this day and age. His reasons included that Lutheran institutions embody “radical human freedom,” are critically engaged and challenge the assumptions of the day, take the education of the individual seriously, take peace and justice seriously, and focus on serving the needs of the world.