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    Bigger and Better

    A pizza is made in a new oven at Cal U (left) and students sit in a new conference room inside the Natali Student Center (right).Renovations wrap up at the Natali Student Center

    As the fall semester begins, students are enjoying a more spacious and functional Natali Student Center.

    The building has grown by more than 31,000 square feet, creating room for the amenities students requested when they authorized the renovations through a 2011 referendum. 

    “My freshmen year here at Cal U, we voted on the referendum to renovate the union, and I am still here to see it completed,” says Brendan Garay ’15, a graduate student who is serving a second term as president of Student Government. 

    “It has been really interesting going through the entire renovation process.”

    Students use the energy zone inside the student center to talk and complete homework.

    The dramatic Heritage Lounge offers casual seating and a central area for get-togethers or coffeehouse-style performances. More seating throughout the building provides space to study or gather with friends.

    The Energy Zone is “home base” for commuters, who can use the space to relax and recharge, power up their devices, put together a snack or lock up their gear.

    Ten shared conference rooms are convenient meeting locations for student clubs and organizations.

    More than ever, Natali is the hub of student life, with Student Affairs, the Women’s Center, campus ministries, the Career and Professional Development Center and more, all under one roof.

    Cal U students use the new stairs to the second floor of Natali.

    And then there’s the food.

    The retail food court has been expanded, and the Flatz convenience store has grown to three times its former size.

    Catering to a student population whose tastes have become more diverse, the Gold Rush lets students experience dishes ranging from stir-fried veggies to Philly cheesesteaks, fish tacos to fresh-baked muffins and scones. 

    Behind the scenes at Natali, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems have been upgraded. Traffic flow has improved, and three new elevators enhance accessibility.

    The student center remained open during the two-year project, which wrapped up on schedule this summer. 

    “The students are excited about the extra space and all of the new amenities that will be ours to use,” Garay says.

    “Over the past couple of years, I think students have been avoiding the student center because of the day-to-day construction. It will be really cool to see all of the students hanging out and using the facility again.”