General - Thu, Feb. 2, 2017

 The crowd of students who  turned out Wednesday afternoon to attend  the dedication and grand opening ceremony  for the renovated student activity center  in the Fred T. Long Student Union  was immense. The words shared with them by speakers prior to the  actual ribbon-cutting  were brief; their goal was to bring the five-year waiting period to re-open the center to an end by stepping aside as quickly as possible to  give the students access to their space.

Wiley's vice president for student affairs and retention services,  Dr. Joseph L. Morale, thanked  students, alumni, faculty, and staff for voting in the  Home Depot  Retool Your School  contest that led to Wiley winning a prize of $30,000 that helped fund the renovations.  "We voted as if our lives depended on it," he said.  "And while we finished second, the monies were the missing ingredient for the work that needed to be done.  This restored bottom floor is the culmination of hard work."

Wiley student Joshua Poole, who serves as president of the  Student Union Advisory Board and will be responsible for helping to manage and maintain the space, expressed gratitude  to the College's President, Dr. Haywood L Strickland.  "I want to thank our President for the vision he has shown in making this space a reality."  Poole also told students to enjoy utilizing the rooms, but to help him take care of the  center.   

Bree Harris, store manager of the Home Depot store in Longview, Texas, told students,

" We love giving back and can't wait for you guys to  get in here and enjoy the center.

Thanks for letting us be a part of it."

 Richard Hodge Sr.,  a Wiley College board trustee and chair of the College's Building and Grounds Committee, opened his remarks with four well-received words, "It's a great day."  And apropos to the dedication being held on the first day of Black History Month,  he  used a quote by Martin Luther  King Jr. to thank everyone for conquering the challenges and moving forward with persistence to complete the renovations.  

" The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy,"  quoted Hodge.  "Here we are today, celebrating the completion of the challenge."  

With those words, the ribbon was cut and students poured into the  renovated center, where improvements  and additions  include the repainting of all areas and meeting rooms, adding a mini-mart and  mini- computer station,  and upgrading the barber shop and beauty salon, which will  both receive bids from  vendors who'd like to provide services on the premises. Other additions include  a new Karaoke station and new chairs and tables to the game room, TV room, snack area, and meeting rooms. The center's bowling alley and a computer lab will open soon. 

The renovation of the student union is phase two of a $24 million construction and facilities improvement project that included the construction of the Haywood L. Strickland Living Learning Center, a 500-bed state-of-the-art student residence hall that opened in fall 2012 . In November, the College re-opened the upper level of the union after modernizing its façade with a  complete facelift  and renovating  and expanding its dining hall to accommodate 700 students, which is more than double the capacity of the building's original dining hall.  

In the top photo, Joshua Poole, president of the Student Union Advisory Board, is pictured center with a few members of his team, Alexis Watts, Dijuan Jackson, Tyshonda Davis, and Andrea Davis. They will hold the responsibility of helping to manage the student activity center. 

In  the second photo, students check out the new computers in the mini-tech station.  A larger computer lab will open soon in the student center.

In the third photo, a student grabs a snack in the new mini-mart. 

See more photos on Facebook:https://tinyurl.com/gukbd2r