Ribbon Cutting makes new student union an official reality

Aron Ammann

Staff Writer

Photo by Scott Wells/Prospectus News State Senator and former Parkland student Chapin Rose speaks at the Student Union Ribbon Cutting ceremony on September 17, 2014.  Ground was broken for the new building in the spring of 2012.

Photo by Scott Wells/Prospectus News
State Senator and former Parkland student Chapin Rose speaks at the Student Union Ribbon Cutting ceremony on September 17, 2014. Ground was broken for the new building in the spring of 2012.

Parkland College officially opened its new student union with a ribbon cutting ceremony that took place on Sept. 17, 2014. All in attendance were part of a culmination of many years of hard work and determination.

Seven keynote speakers were invited to express their thoughts and feelings on the new building, and the long process that concluded with the new expansive and functional space that is now one of Parkland’s crowning jewels.

Parkland President Thomas Ramage was the first to take the podium. After welcoming those in attendance, Ramage opened his speech by saying, “The planning has ended, the construction is over, and the wait is finally done”. Ramage also stated that the new student union is something the Parkland community “sorely needed, dreamt off and sought to make a reality for more than two decades”.

After thanking board of trustee members as well as others who were pivotal in the process of making this dream a reality Ramage stated that “Words are inadequate to thank so many people for what has truly been a community wide labor of love.”

Ramage concluded his speech by saying that the new Union “Shines as an example of what’s best about Parkland College and its mission, we engage the community in the process of learning and help our students succeed both academically and as citizens of our society.”

Ramage also let those in attendance know that the vacated spaces where the student services once resided will be soon be spaces that will support classrooms and labs for a growing student population.

Chair of the Parkland Board of Trustees, Thomas Bennett, acknowledged that “student space is just as important as academic space”. One only needs to walk around the new building to realize that this was accomplished beautifully. The lounge spaces, the cafeteria sitting area and the study areas are second to none, and are being used by students at all hours of the day.

Vice President of Student Services, Linda Moore, spoke about how the union and this central space was a dream of many at Parkland long before the money had been secured to make it a reality. Moore also thanked past students who were part of the planning process for the new space. Their input was valuable in making the space what it is today, and most of them volunteered their time knowing that they would probably have either graduated or moved onto another institution by the time the project had been completed.

Moore also spoke on the five themes that were the main goals in the planning of the U building. A welcoming front door for the college, pride in Parkland, respecting the history of the school, sustainability, engagement and student interaction, and flexibility and adaptability. All of which were accomplished in the design and construction of this new space.

State Senator and a former Parkland student Chapin Rose opened his speech with the remarks “We are finally here.” Rose added that he appreciates what Parkland has done for the community and the region.

Executive Director of Illinois Community College Board, Karen Hunter Anderson, stated that Illinois has the best community college system in the world and that Parkland is a shining star in the state of Illinois. Anderson also stated that the new union at Parkland provides a “one stop shop” and that is something that most colleges do not have. “This new space provides critical support to the student body” Anderson added.

President of Parkland’s student government, Abigail Vanderkloot, was the last to the podium and had the honor of cutting the green ribbon to mark the official opening of the Union. During her speech Vanderkloot elicited laughter from the crowd as she spoke about the days of cold gross pizza being gone and onto to the new stone oven that makes fresh pizzas daily. The new and improved food services area is one of the many reasons students have to celebrate.

Once the formality of the ribbon cutting and speeches were through those in attendance were invited to roam the expansive new building on self-guided tours. Alumni of the massage therapy program at Parkland College also provided free chair massages as part of the festivities.

While on the self-guided tour, attendees were able to view a slide show of the construction of the new building from start to finish as well as partake in the food and refreshments that always make Parkland sponsored events a big hit with the student body.

The new union is a beautifully designed place that on the ground level has a place for the students to relax, study, eat, and to gather with their fellow students. Upstairs houses student services in one area as opposed to being spread across the A and X wings.