Keene State College, L. P. Young Student Center
Keene State CollegeFour-year, public, rural Full-Time enrollment: 3,750
Location: Keene, New Hampshire
L. P. Young Student CenterYear Built: 1995
Size: 72,953 sq. ft.
Annual Operating Budget: $2.7 million
Director of Student Involvement: Jennifer Ferrell
Student Staff: 78 part-time
Nonstudent staff: 8
Although Keene State College was founded in 1909, it wasn’t until 1995 that a building solely dedicated as a student center was opened. Named after long-time college president Lloyd P. Young (1939-64), the center sits at the midpoint of Appian Way, the main pedestrian artery of the 170-acre campus. That convenient location reinforces the Young Center’s intended role as a gathering place.
Being in the middle of our main thoroughfare really allows us to be a community building,” said Director of Student Involvement Jennifer Ferrell. “We always talk about the center being the living room or the family room of campus.”
Keene State College’s mascot is Hootie the Owl, so it’s no surprise to find a grab-and-go dining option called the Hoot ‘n’ Scoot, a restaurant called the Night Owl Café, and a games room known as the Owl’s Perch. But it may be the Lantern Room, with its ceiling-to-floor windows, that is consistently in demand as a dining, meeting, and gathering space. As many as 60 full-size flags hang from the Lantern Room ceiling, recognizing the home countries of Keene students, and at night pedestrians strolling along Appian Way realize how the room earned its name.
“The room is about 90% glass, so when it’s lit at night it looks like a giant lantern from outside,” Ferrell said.
From technology to event setup and teardown, building management to graphic design and administration, Keene students are integral to every aspect of Young Center operations. The student tech crew handles all audio, video, and lighting requests. The same team responsible for event setup also handles the first floor information desk, and student administrative assistants answer phones and complete day-to-day business tasks from the center’s third floor offices. Additionally, five students with previous experience working at the center manage the facility on evenings and from open to close on weekends, and students staff the community service office that operates out of the building.
Keene’s Office of Student Involvement is based out of Young Center and hosts a variety of events, including an AfterHours entertainment program at the Night Owl Café and concerts in the large, multi-purpose space.
If there is one gathering that catalyzes staff and students at the Young Center, it is the annual Winter Celebration, where everyone working at the center transforms the building overnight into semester-ending, stress-relieving event.
“It’s really the only time that all the student staff get together for an event. We completely revamp the building and when people walk in the next morning, it’s like, ‘Oh, wow,’” Ferrell said. There are chocolate fountains, a book sale, Keene Biology Department plant sale, games, giveaways, and ornament making. “Our student staff really gets invested in it,” she added.