The University of South Dakota’s Muenster University Center opened in 2009. It was named for Theodore R. Muenster and his wife, Karen. For three decades Muenster worked at the university; he also was president of the University of South Dakota Foundation.
A major renovation was completed in 2013, and the building reopened Jan. 13, 2014. More than 30,000 square feet was added.
“In addition to expanded seating, the remodel introduced new dining areas and three brand restaurants: Chik-fil-A, Einstein Bros Bagels, and Qdoba Mexican Grill,” said Kimberly Grieve, dean of students.
The additional square footage cost $11.6 million and was funded by the students of the university with the assistance of a grant from the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation.
Grieve believes the best feature about the Muenster University center is the Pit Lounge, an area where students can relax and study. It includes a fireplace, sofas and chairs, and charging stations for students. There are often performances in this area during the lunch hour.
Additionally, the University Center has 46 televisions and a 16-foot by 9-foot television wall for students to watch programs or games.
Twelve part-time student staff members provide support to the professional staff.
“Many students work at the information desk and provide late-night and weekend programming,” Grieve said.
A student organization room is a hub of activity as students meet to plan events or work on projects.
“Additionally, several students serve on the student advisory board to discuss new ideas or changes they would like to implement,” Grieve said.
Programming in the University Center varies depending on the time of year. Finals week programming has included steel drum concerts, an oxygen bar, and massage chairs. During football season, the center hosts Wear Red Fridays; the campus community wears red and gathers for a pep rally.
“Coach Glen will get everyone excited for the upcoming game and sometimes will play the fight song on the piano as we all sing along,” Grieve said.
Other programs have included dog therapy, a live band karaoke, celebration of university leadership, midnight breakfast, a revolving juried art show, and intercultural programming.
University of South Dakota
Four-year, public, rural, commuter, Hispanic serving
Location: Vermillion, S.D.
Muenster University Center
Director: Kyle Schoenfelder
Size: 101,000 sq. ft.
Year Built: 2009
Annual Budget: $736,000
Student Staff: 12 (part-time)
Nonstudent staff: 2 (full-time)