Construction News

Welcome Center renovations underway to preserve image


After a semester of being partially closed for renovations, the Welcome Center should reopen sometime during Spring 2017. | Thom Dwyer/The Cougar

With enrollment numbers increasing each year, UH is expanding the Welcome Center to better suit the growing community.

The Center has been closed for renovations since Aug. 29, and construction is projected for completion by the end of the fall semester. Signs instructing students not to enter the building are posted on the windows.

Joey Ratcliff, director of prospective and new student programs, said that the renovations, which will take place mostly in the Welcome Center Theater, are much-needed.

“With the increase in student enrollment, we feel like we’ve outgrown our space a little bit,” Ratcliff said. “Previously, our theater could only accommodate about 40 to 45 students. Now, we’ll hopefully be able to accommodate up to 200 students.”

The upgrades will provide incoming students with more touring space to better accommodate student events in the admissions office.

Ratcliff said that it was important to leave a positive impact on prospective students and to keep up the appearance of a Tier One institution.

“It’s not a good impression when you have to stand for 30 minutes for an admissions presentation,” Ratcliff said. “We’re a Tier One institution, and we try to stay in line with our sister institutions across the country that are able to offer adequate welcome centers for visiting students.”

Some students, such as business junior Sebastian Mejia, are anxious to see the new developments. Too many students piled into the Welcome Center during his first tour of UH, Mejia said.

“I can’t wait to see the new changes,” Mejia said.

The renovation of the building will help students and staff members. Ratcliff said that additional staff will join the Welcome Center team, and new offices will be made for them.

One of the main problems prior to the renovation was not completely utilizing the Welcome Center’s space, Ratcliff said. 

“We felt like the Welcome Center was quite large — we would check people in for financial aid in the registrar’s office on this end only to send them down to the other end,” Ratcliff said.

The renovations will also separate the Office of Admissions, which was previously called the front counter from the Enrollment Services area. Ratcliff said he thinks students will benefit from this change.

“Students will no longer have to check in for the bursar financial aid here,” Ratcliff said. “They can just go directly there, where they will see the representatives for those offices.”

Except for a little noise, the renovation hasn’t caused any major issues for the Welcome Center staff operating in the closed building.

“There’s some hammers and drill sounds every once and a while, but nothing too interruptive,” Ratcliff said.

The Welcome Center is scheduled to reopen in Spring 2017.

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