Military and Veteran Services Expanding Student Space with Renovations
The Jeffrey Wright Military and Veteran Services space on the first floor of Witherspoon Student Center is adding 220 square feet of additional space for military-affiliated students.
On the first floor of Witherspoon Student Center, a transformation is well underway. In suite 100 of the building, offices are shrinking and new space is opening up.
It’s all part of the long-envisioned renovations for the Jeffrey Wright Military and Veteran Services (MVS) space, one that will allow it to hold more offices for staff while opening up 220 additional square feet for students.
Director Nick Drake said that MVS recently hired a new coordinator, Lucretia King, as well as two other certifying officials who will be part of the office suite. The challenge of the planning, which started in late spring, was to figure out a way to add offices for the new staff while also creating additional space for students, a need that became obvious to Drake over his seven years as MVS director.
“The biggest thing for us was the data collection over the years,” Drake said. “Just seeing the students in that space, we knew that we were quickly outgrowing it.”
The renovation work began Aug. 28, and the revamped space is expected to be ready for use in mid to late October.
Drake explained that many of the pre-renovation amenities will carry over, but that several new features will be added to the space available to students, which will now total about 600 square feet.
“Really in 2019, we had the thought of needing to expand,” Drake said. “But at that point in time, we weren’t ready. We didn’t have the resources to do it. We’ve been very fortunate over the years. We’ve done a lot of fundraising. We’ve had very generous donors and supporters of our program give to our enhancement fund, and then obviously we had the significant contribution from Jeff and Kelly Wright to support military students.”
The newly renovated space will include a lounge with a large television and sectional and several comfortable chairs, as well as a refrigerator and microwave. The space will also include free printing for students, computer workstations to provide a quiet, private workspace, a communal four-seat table and collaborative spaces with large whiteboards similar to the workrooms in NC State’s libraries.
Drake explained that the new space, largely thanks to the donations the program received from Jeffrey Wright, would be a far cry from where it started at the beginning of his tenure.
“It’s going to be awesome,” Drake said. “I’ve been here for seven years, so I’m the inaugural director. I’ve been in that space when it was just me and a small desk, popcorn stand and a filing cabinet. We started without a whole lot, a modest operating budget. We didn’t have much. So by working through the process and establishing our enhancements and endowments, experiencing students using the space over the years, and having the funds to be able to enhance the space is pretty significant. We’re excited to see the students in the new space.”
I’ve been in that space when it was just me and a small desk, popcorn stand and a filing cabinet. We started without a whole lot. We’re excited to see the students in the new space.
MVS serves military-connected students, a demographic that includes students who either identify as current service members, separated veterans or are currently serving in the National Guard or a reserve component. It also serves students who are either a spouse of a current service member or a child of an active service member or veteran.
The two groups total close to 2,400 students, adding to the importance of the new, enlarged space.
“This decision was very data driven for us in terms of seeing how our current space operated and what needs the students had,” Drake said. “Being able to create additional resources or things that they can use within that given space is critical, and I’m glad we’re able to meet those needs a little bit better.”