UAB President Dr. Ray Watts introducing the faculty, students, and community partners involved in making the new Hill Student Center a reality. (Photo by Angela Hollowell).UAB President Dr. Ray Watts introducing the faculty, students, and community partners involved in making the new Hill Student Center a reality. (Photo by Angela Hollowell).Tessa Case - Contributing Writer

On Wednesday, Jan. 20, the UAB community celebrated the official grand opening of the Hill Student Center.

“There is not a more impressive student center at any university on the globe than this one that we dedicate today,” said UAB President Ray Watts.

The ceremony began at 2 p.m. and featured brief speeches by President Watts, Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. John Jones and USGA President Garrett Stephens.

Dr. Jones described the HSC as a building committed to providing “a safe, supportive and educationally empowering campus community center where students can learn, grow, and be successful.” He also described the activities that would be held within and around the center, including lectures, performances and other programs intended to help students become more involved and make the most out of their UAB experience.

“This is what the UAB spirit is all about,” Stephens said.

According to Stephens, the USGA has also made a lasting impact on the Hill Student Center through a fundraising effort for its Emergency Student Loan Program. The USGA sold bricks recycled from the old Hill University Center to be engraved and placed in the walkway for the new Center, to help fund ESLP, which provides interest-free loans to students in need. Bricks are still available for purchase.

The grand opening ceremony concluded with Watts, Jones, Stephens, Blaze and several UAB board members cutting the ribbon to signal the beginning of the tours for the new building.

While a soft opening of the building was held for students in December, the official opening, which was planned for Fall 2015, was delayed until the spring semester.

The HSC now houses One Stop Student Services, Student Media, the University Bookstore, Veteran Services, Disability Support Services and other student resources that were displaced during the construction, as well as three new campus restaurants, Mein Bowl, Full Moon BBQ and Panera Bread. Mein Bowl and Full Moon are currently open, while Panera opened this past Monday, Jan. 25.

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