Rhatigan Student Center a high-profile venue for naming opportunities

Gifts to support the newly renovated building also help ease the funding burden on students

After a brief tour of the renovated half of the Rhatigan Student Center, Don Barry ’88 described the updated facility as being “at the corner of Awesome and Amazing.” Barry is shown here in the room for which he acquired naming rights.
After a brief tour of the renovated half of the Rhatigan Student Center, Don Barry ’88 described the updated facility as being “at the corner of Awesome and Amazing.” Barry (left) is shown here with Nick Messing, coordinator of leadership and service learning for student involvement, in the room for which Barry acquired naming rights. It is the temporary home of the WSU Student Involvement office, but its permanent use will be as a meeting room.

The $33 million renovation of the Rhatigan Student Center is only half complete, but already students are using it heavily, whether studying, dining, relaxing in front of large-screen TVs, playing pool or just hanging with friends.

a student studies at the newly renovated Rhatigan Student Center

A student works on a class assignment near the comfort of a stone fireplace on the first floor of the Rhatigan Student Center.

What's in a name?   

Although the most common practice is for donors to place their own names on the rooms or spaces they sponsor, a few have come up with unusual, humorous or sentimental choices. Mike ’71 and Mary James, for instance, engaged in a bit of whimsy by naming a room after their dog, Olive. Curt Gridley ’80 and Tracy Hoover combined their last names to create the Groover Lounge. And Mickey Armstrong ’45 and her daughters chose to honor her husband and their father by christening a first-floor lounge Pete’s Place.

    In fact, the RSC is the pulsating heart of the university more than it’s been in many years, thanks to the updated and light-drenched design, modern amenities and convenient services, says Jim Herrman, RSC director.

    “Attendance in the building is up dramatically,” he said. “Students have settled in and are using the building as we envisioned. Everyone seems very excited to be here.”

    The completion of the north half of the RSC also is giving alumni and other WSU friends a chance to see how impressive the facility will be when it is fully renovated. And that’s expected to generate renewed interest in supporting this important project, said Elizabeth King, WSU Foundation president and CEO.

    “The RSC is a place where students are heavily engaged, a center for student involvement,” she said. “For many years to come, these students will see the names of successful alumni and friends who are giving back to the university and, in the process, also decreasing the bonded indebtedness that students will be paying off through student fees.”

    Many meeting rooms and other spaces in the Rhatigan Student Center already have been matched to donors, but there are plenty of opportunities remaining. Prime sites are available, such as high-traffic dining locations, all of the leisure and work spaces on the lower level and lounge spots popular with students.

    Don Barry ’88 and his wife, Lora, are among the donors whose gifts will help offset the burden on students to pay off the RSC renovation bonds. They named a second-floor meeting room for LaVona Spencer, a now-retired advisor at Wichita State who greatly influenced Barry’s academic life.

    Until the south half of the RSC renovation is completed, the Spencer room is home to Student Involvement, which helps students engage in activities to enhance their college experience. On a recent tour of the renovated half of the building, Barry reflected on why he and Lora chose to support the RSC project.

“This is a chance to have an impact on the university that is going to last for an extraordinarily long time." 

- Don Barry '88

    “It’s my generation’s turn to try to get this campus ready for the next generation or two,” he said, noting that other building projects are underway or expected to begin soon. “This is a chance to have an impact on the university that is going to last for an extraordinarily long time.”

    A donation from Wichita CPA Jane McHugh ’80 resulted in the naming of a second-floor meeting room for her parents, Gerald and Mona Pike. Her father was a WSU alumnus who established a scholarship at Wichita State in his aunt’s name, McHugh said.

    “So I thought it would be nice to have something in his name,” she said. “I was able to address a need for the university that would benefit students while also honoring my parents.”

    Progress on the RSC renovation continues on schedule, Herrman said. The north half of the building is complete and operational. Some of the meeting rooms are being used as temporary locations for departments that eventually will move to their permanent locations on the south side of the building. The University Bookstore will return to its home on the south side in February.

    The renovation is scheduled to be completed next August, with grand reopening events slated for Sept. 15-19.

Two students relax between classes playing pool on the basement level of the Rhatigan Student Center.


circle arrow For more information on naming opportunities in the Rhatigan Student Center, contact Deborah Buller, executive assistant to the WSU Foundation president and CEO, at 316-978-5672 or at deborah.buller@wichita.edu.

Velma Wallace

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