UW-Eau Claire announces plans for new University Welcome Center

| Julie Poquette

The welcome mat will be rolled out in an even bigger way for University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire prospective students, alumni and other campus visitors when a new University Welcome Center opens in 2020.

The University Welcome Center will be the main entry point for the more than 17,000 prospective students, parents and others who attend campus admissions visits each year, as well as for alumni returning to campus. Creating a “university front door” is included in the 2010-30 Campus Master Plan. The University Welcome Center and its parking area will be built on university land along Roosevelt Avenue across from Schneider Hall, on the sites of an existing visitor kiosk and three recently razed homes.

UW-Eau Claire’s Admissions Office as well as the UW-Eau Claire Foundation and Alumni Association offices will be located in the new center.

“It’s our goal to make the best possible first impression when prospective students and their families arrive on campus,” said Heather Kretz, UW-Eau Claire director of admissions. “The University Welcome Center will help us provide the friendliest possible visit experience for future students, with an inviting facility in which to introduce them to all UW-Eau Claire has to offer.”

The proposed $5.5 million facility will be paid for entirely with funds raised through private sources. The UW-Eau Claire Foundation has received a lead gift for the building and will secure all necessary funding prior to construction beginning in 2019, said Kimera Way, UW-Eau Claire Foundation president.

Because the University Welcome Center will be privately funded and built on university land, planning and construction management for the project will be administered by the UW System. The facility will be owned and operated by UW-Eau Claire. The UW System recently completed a competitive request-for-proposals process to select an architectural/engineering firm. Ayres Associates, headquartered in Eau Claire, was chosen through that process.

“The University Welcome Center will be the centerpiece of our efforts to substantially expand our student recruitment and alumni engagement activities,” Way said. “As university budgets have evolved, student tuition is now the primary funding source for public universities in Wisconsin. So, it’s critical that we provide the best possible visit experience for prospective students, while also better connecting our more than 85,000 alumni — our best spokespeople about the quality of the Blugold experience — to those prospective students.”

For more information about the University Welcome Center, contact Mike Rindo, assistant chancellor for facilities and university relations, at rindomj@uwec.edu or 715-836-4742.