The view of ongoing construction from inside the HSC. (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart).Mike Sasser, director of the Hill Student Center, shows the view of ongoing construction from inside the HSC. (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart).Casey Marley - Managing Editor

The Hill Student Center is open—unofficially.

On Jan. 20, the newly completed contribution to UAB’s Student Life

will have its official opening ceremony, uniting all areas of Student Affairs after
three fall semesters with no student center, according to Mike Sasser, Director of the HSC.
Plans for the new Hill Center have been in the works since April 2011, said Carolyn
Farley, director of Academic and Student Services Operations, but physical
implementation of the plan did not begin until 2013, when the old student center, the
Hill University Center, was demolished.

This fall, however, showed new progress to the center as the physical building

neared completion.

“I’m an RA [Resident Assistant], so I came for RA training in the summer and they
told us that it would be open in November, and that everything would be open in
November and that it would be totally ready, but then that changed and obviously
got put off two months,” said sophomore art history major Cayla Hamilton.

But the grand opening had always been planned for the spring, according to Farley.
“We had always intended the grand opening to be early in the spring semester
because we wanted the newness of the semester to still be upon everybody…The
delays were primarily associated with the delivering, getting the materials in hand
The theater of the HSC. (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart).The theater of the HSC. (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart).that were needed for some of the critical things,” Farley said.

Most of the main hold-ups according to Farley “were attributed to life-safety types of
things” like stairwells being open and operational. “There was enough of that type of
work that they didn’t want to turn the building over because, if a stairwell had to be
closed, then that meant that it wasn’t available for people to use safely to get out of
the building.”

Farley added that while the date changed multiple times, UAB was alerted of all
differences in the proposed schedule. “The contractor has been very good, all the
way along, about letting us know. So it didn’t come as a huge surprise, but certainly

While the grand opening is on Jan. 20, contractors will still be working at the
Center, though Farley said their presence will be minimal.

The Center has been open to the public since early December, giving students the
opportunity to explore the building.

“I’m excited to see how we are going to use the ballroom,” Hamilton said.

The ballroom of the HSC. (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart).The ballroom of the HSC. (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart).Along with the ballroom, the new student center supplies UAB students with nine
meeting rooms, a fully functional theater, a centrally-located One Stop Student
Services office and the Visitor Center. The third floor of the building also houses a
meditation room for students of all faiths and backgrounds to meditate or pray.
Among the new spaces and offices are also the HSC dining facilities, which include
Full Moon Bar-B-Que, Mein Bowl and a not-yet-open Panera Bread.
According to Farley, UAB is the third university in the country to have a college
campus Panera Bread, but due to delayed training schedule, the precise opening
date is still unknown.

“It won’t be Monday [January 10th] and we’re going to start putting that out on social

media through dining, because I know that students are…it’s the one, it’s the one
that’s not open yet. So it’s the one that everyone is excited about,” Farley said. “We
are hoping at the very least to be doing samplings at the Grand Opening…ideally we
would be opening, but I would hate to put that in the paper and then not fulfill that.
Because I feel like we’ve been disappointing people already, and that’s been tough.
It’s new and I know that there are people who they’re just really curious about it.”
About - Student Media

UAB Student Media is the home of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s student-run media outlets. They include Kaleidoscope , an award-winning weekly newspaper; BlazeRadio, our 24-hour online radio station live on the TuneIn app; Aura, a much-heralded literary arts magazine; and UABTV, original, web-based video programming. UAB students operate all media. The articles, posts, newscasts and opinions are solely those of its student writers, producers, editors, deejays, etc. and do not reflect that of the university, its administrators or the Student Media advisors.


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