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Posted on February 4, 2011

Students will have a chance to vote Feb. 14-15 on proposed renovations to the Natali Student Center.

All students who pay the traditional on-campus fee are eligible to participate in the referendum from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. in the lobby of the Natali Student Center.

The University’s growth has created a need for expanded and upgraded facilities. One result of Cal U’s record-setting enrollment has been long lines in food service venues, especially at lunchtime. On many days, seating in the student center’s lounges, computer labs and meeting spaces also is filled.

The $30 million renovation project, designed by WTW Architects of Pittsburgh, will provide more dining space and a larger food court, increase meeting space for Student Affairs and Student Association Inc. offices, improve the Vulcan Theatre, and create a new game room and media suite, among other changes.

Plans for the renovation were developed after a 2010 survey identified the improvements most in demand. More than 1,400 respondents identified these needs:

  • Larger food court (63.5% or respondents);
  • Larger convenience store (58.5%);
  • More public lounge spaces (50.9%);
  • Coffeehouse (44.8%);
  • Quiet lounge space (38.4%);
  • Improved Vulcan Theatre (36%);
  • Sustainable/energy efficient features (33.9%).

An advisory board worked with the architects and met with various user groups to develop the final plan, which adds nearly 37,000 square feet to the building.

The student center will remain open while the renovation and expansion is under way.

The referendum and funding plan conforms to policies set by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. PASSHE does not permit tuition dollars to be used for auxiliary facilities such as the student center.

Instead, PASSHE requires auxiliary service construction to be approved by a student referendum and funded through fees. If the renovation is approved, the student center fee will increase by $67, to $148.

The student center has been the hub of campus activities since 1968, when the California Memorial Union was constructed. In 1992, the building was renovated and expanded to accommodate a growing student population, and the building became the Natali Student Center.

Dining facilities, formerly in Gallagher Hall, moved to the student center in 1999; the Gold Rush Dining Room was part of that expansion. Since 1998, Cal U’s enrollment has grown by more than 3,500 students.

More information is available online at