A new state-of-the art student centre dedicated to enhancing the student experience at DCU and preparing graduates to flourish in the 21st century was officially opened by President of Ireland Michael D Higgins today.
Funded completely by donations, the ‘U’, a purpose-built facility housing a broad range of activities and support services, will serve the needs of DCU’s rapidly growing student community, now numbering over 17,000.
Key features include a Student Leadership and Life-Skills Centre, Performing Arts and Cultural spaces for students and the wider community, an Entrepreneurship and Innovation Hub for national and international student initiatives, and a Global Village celebrating the cultural diversity of the University, with more than 115 different nationalities represented in the student population.
It is estimated that, in the coming decade, over 50,000 students will avail of the facilities and services on offer at ‘the U’, a complete venue for the cultural, social, creative and international aspects of the student experience at DCU.
Located at the heart of DCU’s Glasnevin Campus, the stunning new facility cost €15 million to construct and was entirely self-funded through a student levy providing €8 million, with the balance provided by the Tony Ryan Trust, Bank of Ireland, and DCU Commercial activities.
The ‘U’ is also home to a specially-commissioned sculpture ‘Emergence’ by renowned artist Liam O’Neill.
The 3 metre high piece, which is carved from the wood of a 180-year old copper beech tree that had to be felled on the Glasnevin campus due to disease, represents the concept of the transformation of the student throughout their personal journey at the university.
The ‘U’ is one of the most high-profile and ambitious projects in DCU’s Campus Development Plan and will play a pivotal role in student life across DCU’s three campuses in the Glasnevin-Drumcondra area.
DCU’s new student centre, ‘the U’ includes:
● A Student Leadership and Life-Skills Centre to enable and support students in developing essential life-skills in key areas of personal and professional development. A key component of the learning for students will be the development of resilience and coping strategies to enhance their mental well-being; key skills that will benefit students in their personal life and future careers. ● Arts and Culture Venues to stimulate engagement with the arts through the provision of flexible and interactive spaces for students and the wider community.
● A Global Village at ‘the U’ providing a focal point for International Students. The creation of the ‘Global Village’ within the student centre will provide a dedicated space for international and domestic students to engage with each other and to celebrate the rich diversity of cultural and ethnic backgrounds across DCU’s three campuses.
● An Entrepreneurship and Innovation Hub to facilitate student enterprise initiatives, including commercial and social entrepreneurship programmes. The DCU Enactus Society and DCU Enterprise Society will be key users of this facility that provides hot-desk space and related facilities to encourage and support all forms of student-based social and commercial entrepreneurship. Large web-enabled screens will facilitate collaboration on global issues with partner institutions and other Changemaker Campuses around the world.
● The student centre will support over 150 student clubs and societies, through the provision of a comprehensive range of meeting and engagement spaces. The centre will also be the home for the DCU Student Radio Station, DCUfm and there will be a dedicated print and media room for the station and the student newspaper, The College View.
● Two ‘Escape Pods’ which provides a social space for students with autism, reflecting DCU’s commitment as the world’s first Autism-Friendly University.
● The building spans a total area of more than 5,500 sq m, designed to accommodate the large student population at DCU, which has grown by over 50% in the last five years.
● Reconfigurable performance and meeting rooms to cater for small to large scale events in excess of 2,000 people.
President of DCU Prof Brian MacCraith said:
“Today’s opening of ‘U’ represents a major milestone for everyone associated with DCU, a day where our commitment to the personal and professional development of our students is reflected in a magnificent facility. Today is also significant because it demonstrates what can be achieved by partnership and generosity. The ‘U’, which was totally funded by philanthropic donations, with the majority coming from our own students, will transform the lives of tens of thousands of students for many decades to come. The ‘U’ is a physical manifestation of DCU’s mission ‘to transform lives and societies’.”
President of DCU Students’ Union Vito Moloney Burke said:
“This day marks the collective contributions of generations of DCU students. Once again we have a centre of activity that DCU students can call home. The student experience in the university is set to be enhanced even further, as ‘the U’ will foster culture, diversity and creativity amongst those who utilise it. The place will be alive with club and society life and will serve as a platform for increased student engagement. Today is a representation of what a culture of collaboration between students and the university can achieve; the legacy starts here!”
Director of Student Support & Development Dr Claire Bohan said:
“The new student centre will change the face of student interaction in DCU. Students will have access to state-of-the-art facilities built to ensure that social activity, student development and entrepreneurial activities are front and foremost. The centre will provide the ideal setting for students to develop themselves outside of the classroom and interact with students from different Faculties. This is much bigger than just a new building, this is a new way of ‘being a student’.”