INFRASTRUCTURE

Construction to begin on University of Miami’s new student services centre

SOURCE: University of Miami
University of Miami hopes the new three-story, 30,000-square-foot student centre will transform how students access vital campus services.

The University of Miami is looking to streamline their service and centralise its student services in one brand new three-story, 30,000 sq foot facility that will transform how students access vital campus services.

The new build will house a “one-stop” centre for all student-facing services departments, where trained campus generalists are ready to answer any questions students may have.

Students have long decried the university’s disorganised approach to student services, labelling it “The Miami Shuffle” for all of the challenges they face when trying to get assistance.

According to the university, the new centre will solve this conundrum by serving as a centralised location for students to “make payments to their student accounts, lift a hold from their academic records, receive information regarding financial aid and course registration, and complete other transactions such as obtaining a ‘Cane Card.’”

The streamline the service further, the university is also investing in the latest technology to allow students to access their services remotely.

“Our new centre will incorporate new technologies that will enable students to access our services in many new ways,” said Assistant Dean for Academic Support Services, Mykel Billups.

“And with a blend of group and individual study areas, the new space will be tailored to meet our centre’s programming needs as well as the needs of our students.”

A main feature of the US$15 million new space will be the counselling centre, where mental health professionals will run workshops and group sessions, as well as hold training for doctoral students.

Mental health has come under the spotlight for universities in the United States as a range of common mental health conditions are being diagnosed more often in students.

As part of the American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment, researchers surveyed more than 450,000 college students at 452 institutions and found that from 2009 to 2015, the proportion who report having a diagnosis or being treated has gone up for anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, insomnia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and panic attacks.

“The new centre will continue our efforts to de-stigmatise the need for mental health support for students,” said Director of the Counselling Centre, Rene Monteagudo.

“We have designed our new space to allow our counsellors, other staff members and peer educators to be innovative in their approach to supporting the campus community.”

The university has teamed up with CIVICA Architecture who are specialists in the various technical and passive design elements needed to address the climatic challenges of buildings in South Florida’s tropical environment.

Construction is slated to begin in May 2019.