School of Undergraduate Studies looks for own space on campus

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Graduate Assistant Patrick Eubanks leaves the undergraduate studies office after completing his day of work on September 19, 2018.

Photo Credit: Ashley Ephraim | Daily Texan Staff

Although there are 1,187 students enrolled in the School of Undergraduate Studies, students within UGS do not have a centralized place on campus to call their own, unlike students in most colleges. 

Dean of the school, Brent Iverson, said he is currently working on detailed proposals to create a space on campus for his students. He said dedicating an area on campus specifically for UGS is a complicated process, and no specific location has been determined yet.

“It just has to happen, and we’re doing everything we can to make it happen,” Iverson said. “A year from now, we probably can talk in detail about what we’re
gonna do. We’re in the process of thinking this through.” 

Molly Gully, director of the Vicks Center for Strategic Advising and Career Counseling, said a student’s major is a strong identifying piece of information that connects students with like-minded peers. She said before UGS freshmen transfer to other colleges, they need to have that initial sense of community other freshmen get to have. 

“That conversation has never dropped off (Iverson’s) radar,” Gully said. “He’s been a constant advocate, and it’s something that is always at the forefront of his mind. He is aware of the need and he is aware of the students’ voice.”

Gully said UGS students currently rely on spaces available across the University such as the Student Activity Center, the Union Building and Peter T. Flawn Academic Center. Iverson said he wants to track where students gather most frequently in order to determine locations that are best suited for a UGS space. 

“We want a space that’s really comfortable and can feel like home, not just for UGS students, but for all students,” Iverson said. “UGS students are going to become every single major on campus, so they are really representative of the entire campus.” 

Iverson said the more time students spend on campus, the more successful they are in their studies. He said he wants UGS students to identify with a space as opposed to just having a community gathering area. 

“There’s so much that happens when students learn from students not in an organized or supervised way,” Iverson said. “That is really the secret sauce of the University experience, and it is a critical piece that I feel like we have been missing and I really want to make that happen.”

Mathematics senior Stephen Nachazel is a former UGS student and former vice president of the Undergraduate Studies Council. He said having a 24-hour space for UGS students would benefit the council by providing them with a concrete meeting area and would allow UGS students to connect with each other. 

“If I had that space when I was a freshman, it would have been really useful,” Nachazel said. “Having been in UGS for one year and the College of Natural Sciences for three years, I definitely identify with UGS way more than CNS, because it’s my foundation and where I made a home for myself.”