Graceland has been in our family’s hearts and minds for over 50 years; from the time Cherry and I left the campus, to be followed years later by Shandra and Derek. We believe that Graceland not only educates; it also teaches fact-based critical thinking, instills a belief in the worth of all persons, and gives opportunities for natural leadership skills to emerge and grow. It is a place where inquiring minds are fed and hearts filled with love for others. These are experiences that last a lifetime. We hope that the new student union building will enhance the student-centered Graceland experience to the ultimate benefit of all the communities into which that experience flows.”
-Jay Newcom ’64
Investing in the Student Experience
Introducing NEWCOM STUDENT UNION
An exciting change is coming to the Graceland University Lamoni campus. As the university continues to emphasize the idea of a student-centered environment, it is appropriate that the Memorial Student Center (MSC), a building that is so much a part of every student’s life, should receive major renovations that will greatly impact students and their Graceland experience.While the MSC has always been — and continues to be — the center of campus life and the heart of the student experience in Lamoni, it is in need of an extensive upgrade. This space should inspire prospective students and connect current students with the broader campus community. The new MSC will be called Newcom Student Union, made possible by the generosity of the Newcom family.Newcom Student Union will retain the very best from its past but will become even more inviting, more relevant and more versatile to meet the social, academic, communication and leadership development needs of today’s students. As one of the first impressions for campus visitors, Newcom Student Union will reflect the active student life and community that is Graceland.
A BIT OF HISTORY Graceland’s original student center was completed in 1950 and was intended as a memorial to all the Community of Christ youth who had served during World War II. It contained a stage in the main room and four rooms that housed a lounge, snack shop, bookstore and bookstore storage. An addition was added in 1961 that created a larger bookstore, a new snack shop (the Swarm Inn), a campus post office, the Americas Room, a lounge and several offices.
Newcom Student Union will continue to be Graceland’s family room — and a big portion of the Graceland experience. Students meet there for many reasons. It’s a place where they renew old relationships and build new ones. It’s a place where scholarly presentations, forums on social issues and intercultural encounters happen. It’s a space where we eat, talk, skate, worship, study and play — sometimes all in the same day.
More seating, with a wider variety of seating, will accommodate large groups hanging out for extended periods of time, as well as individuals grabbing a quick bite to eat. The redesign and expansion of the Swarm Inn will allow food service to be more efficient and cut down on current wait times for students, many of whom have a tight schedule. Doubling the size of the Swarm Inn might be the biggest impact of the renovation.
In addition to meals, the Swarm Inn is a popular place to study or simply sit and hang out with friends, but seating is currently limited. Whether grabbing a meal between classes or just enjoying the casual vibe of the new space, an expanded Swarm Inn with its natural light and campus views will provide an inviting space for all. The additional space will also create much-needed space for both individual and small-group study, and will increase the opportunity for faculty-student interaction outside the classroom, which is a vital component for student success.
Playing games (such as air hockey and pool) with other students from around the world is a whole new experience! Gaming reminds students of home.
Having a dedicated, safe space for gaming without interruptions by other activities in the main room is an asset that students will appreciate. The opportunity to socialize with others from different houses, backgrounds and nations is priceless
“As a Graceland student, I know that the MSC houses so many different experiences for students. The remodel of the MSC is more than just an investment for the university; it’s an investment in our students. Students spend countless hours there — playing pool, grabbing a bite to eat, checking mail, doing homework or just hanging out with friends. It makes me excited that student input will help make Newcom Student Union a place reflecting the wants and needs of the students for years to come.”
Tamela Hill ’19
President, Graceland Student Government (GSG)
The expanded digital commons with a campus view will provide more areas for study and hanging out with friends. There is a huge need for group project space, as many classes require small-group work. This will be a major help in this regard, given that this space with its new, more comfortable setting will accommodate a variety of group sizes not available today. The expanded digital commons with a campus view will provide more areas for study and hanging out with friends.
In addition, the digital commons is a popular place for students from all over the country and the world who are able to use the technological resources there for regular video communication with family back home, as well as entertainment and academic work.
This highly visible space will showcase the student-focused character of the university and the student-led nature of Graceland’s programming..
The mezzanine will host a multi-function office suite for student leaders in which student government officers and club leaders will strategize, plan and host conversations with students on important matters.
Studio G will accommodate students giving leadership to the Tower, Acacia, Student Communications Organization and other media as they collaborate on communication needs across campus.
The Enactus suite will house Graceland’s nationally recognized, student-led initiatives that involve students from multiple academic disciplines in community problem-solving and innovation..
Summer 2019 – Phase 1: Swarm Inn Expansion, Digital Commons, Restrooms and Front Face
Summer 2019 – Phase 2: Main Room, Game Room and Mezzanine (Student Group Spaces)
Summer 2021 – Phase 3 Office Spaces
It is from the generous gifts of Graceland alumni and friends that Newcom Student Union has become a reality.
These gifts not only build and renovate buildings; they build opportunities for scholarship and friendship, and provide experiences that lead to the fulfillment of Graceland’s mission: to create learning communities where students develop their potential for meaningful and productive lives.
If you would like to consider a gift to Graceland for Newcom Student Union, the future work to be done on Closson Center or any other purpose:
Graceland and the City of Lamoni mourned the passing of a longtime supporter of the community this fall. The Honorable Leonard L. Boswell ’55 passed away Aug. 17 at the age of 84 in a Des Moines, Iowa, hospital. Boswell’s drive, commitment, passion, devotion and beaming smile will be missed.
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