New UT Student Union opens its doors

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A much anticipated new piece of the University of Tennessee opened its doors Monday as the university finished phase one of the new Student Union.

“What the old student union provided was great and served its purpose well over the last three decades, but this certainly provides much more than that,” said Chris Cimino, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration.

The 142,000 square foot building stands where a parking garage used to be near Neyland Stadium. It houses a new Vol Shop that has doubled in size, bookstore, technology store, and dining with more options and almost triple the seating. It also has an updated career services office with newer technology and more space.

“Everybody is coming to college to prepare for their next step or to prepare for something else, so they’re either going to graduate school to continue their education or they want to get a job, make more money, enter the workforce, and we are really that place that can prepare them,” said Stephanie Kit, Career Center Interim Director.Slideshow: New UT Student Union opens its doors

The new Student Union will eventually replace the old Carolyn Brown Memorial University Center building which was built in 1954. It is a nostalgic building for former generations of UT students, but the university says they wanted to bring everything up to date. They say everything in the new Student Union is as modern as it can be.

“You know I think for some they’re always going to be sad to see a lot of the things in the past that they were accustomed to whether it was a bowling alley, whether it was a certain meeting room that they had some special tie to,” said Cimino.

It is still a work in progress, but as the campus moves forward so does the $167 million project with Phase 2 to begin soon and be completed by 2018. The first step for that one is tearing down the old University Center. The first phase took nearly three years to complete. There will be a dedication ceremony on September 11.

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