KUDOS: McFarland Student Union

KUDOS, Kutztown University’s Dedication to Outstanding Service, focuses on university administrative offices and the individuals within them, giving the campus community a look inside the working areas on campus.

This week, University Relations (UR) sat down with the staff of McFarland Student Union to get an inside look at the dedicated individuals who host and maintain all of the events and areas in MSU's diverse spaces.

UR: Would you introduce yourselves and tell us how long you’ve been with KU?

AG: My name is Amanda Garcia. I’m the assistant director of the McFarland Student Union building, Greek life and commuter student services. I'm approaching my sixth year at KU and like to think I'm the proudest Golden Bear.

SV: I'm Sophia Valeriano. I have been at Kutztown for five years now. I had four years of undergraduate at KU and now I’m in my first year of graduate school. I am the Information Desk graduate assistant.

KM: My name is Kean MacLelland. I am one of three graduate assistants here at the student union building. I have been on campus for five years, first as an undergraduate student and now as a graduate student. This is also my first year as a graduate assistant in this great building.

UR: What is your office’s role and mission at the university?

AG: The McFarland Student Union building is a 100,000 square-foot building located on the north side of the campus. We see about 5,000 guests per weekday and host about 2,000 events per year. The MSU operations office employs roughly 25 student employees. I have three graduate assistants who work with operations: Sophia and Kean, who are here today, and Maria Mendolia, our graduate assistant of Greek life and commuter services. Our mission is really simple – we strive to foster a welcoming atmosphere that enhances diversity, the academic experience and provides our students and visitors with a place to go and enjoy their time here at KU.

SV: At the Information Desk, our mission and goal is always to provide the best service possible to anyone who comes into the building. Whatever their needs, we aim to help them as best we can. We have such an influx of community members, incoming freshmen, other students, parents who have questions and so many visitors. No matter who comes up to the desk, we always want to help point them in the right direction and answer their questions as best as possible. This also means being aware not only of the campus buildings, offices and classrooms, but events going on as well.

KM: I think the student union building is a very unique space on campus because it unites multiple aspects of college life. It's a place where students can come and focus on their academics as well as building social relationships with peers and using the student-oriented services hosted in the building. My position specifically focuses on the operations of the building, making sure rooms are set up for the various events that we host every single day.

UR: Can you explain your office’s staff make-up and responsibilities?

AG: I am the assistant director, I oversee operations. We have one administrative assistant, Heather Pafchek – she's really wonderful. She works with our guests and clients to gather their needs for any events being hosted in the building. We have production students, so if you're hosting an event that requires any sort of audio or visual needs, we have students on staff who are trained to assist you with any lighting, AV, etc. We employ a web and graphic designer, Heather Leiby, who updates our website and makes posters for the building.

SV: I supervise the Information Desk staff. There are 10 of us who work the desk. We answer questions, answer phones, sort mail for the building, sell tickets for events across campus and as of Fall 2019, we are the hub of the university-wide Lost and Found. We have an online system where we log and track items and try to return them to their owners.

KM: As the graduate assistant for building managers and building assistant staff, I am the direct supervisor for 10 of our student staff workers here on campus. They really are world-class workers. Our student workers are focused on doing the best job they can and providing student-centered service for their peers on campus. Their responsibilities include setting up and tearing down rooms before and after events and making sure the building is aesthetically pleasing and conducive to what needs to take place throughout the building.

UR: How does your office serve students and the campus community?

AG: We do our best to provide the best service to such a vast area. On the lower level, we house our Alumni Auditorium, where we host our movie series. We run weekly movies Thursday through Sunday. The first floor is home to the student government office and the Kutztown University Activities Board office. They are both very active student groups on campus. The first floor also hosts the Office of Student Involvement and our KU Campus Store which we all frequent for books, apparel, snacks and more. New to the first floor this Spring 2020 semester is our Esports Arena, which is very exciting! On the main floor, we have the Office of Veteran's Services, the Cub Café, which is an all-you-care-to-eat dining facility, as well as a Starbucks location. The Starbucks is a full retail location in the Bear’s Den, which is a vast lounge area for our students to relax in in-between classes. We have a computer lab and the Information Desk, where you can find an array of other services including the university-wide Lost and Found program. People can come to our desk to buy tickets for events or trips or anything else going on through our campus. Also on the main floor is the Community Outreach Center, a lactation room, a gender-neutral restroom and lots of multi-purpose spaces. Upstairs there are several conference rooms which are reserved by clients and students alike for events and weekly meetings. There's a commuter lounge, which is home for our commuter students with comfortable furniture, computers, printers, a refrigerator, etc. for them to use throughout the day. The building is always full of students.

KM: The student union building is unique because it doesn’t only serve the student population. We host many outside events for the Kutztown community. We focus on bringing in and creating space for interesting and innovative events. We work with a lot of the student leaders and services to make that a reality in this building. Our student staff really focuses on making sure that the needs of our students and clientele are met.

UR: What are the points of pride in your office?

AG: A point of pride for me is in being a KU alumna. It's here that I was able to grow and develop as a student. I met so many wonderful mentors who I am now able to call my colleagues and friends. Having the opportunity to give back to the students in the same way that those individuals did for me is something I really enjoy. Another point of pride would be just the ability to maintain the building. For instance, we just updated all of our wayfinding signage. It's now more in line with university branding. I just installed new decals and vinyl stickers you'll see around the building, including coming up the stairs from the book store to the main floor and wrapped on the elevator doors. We are really just trying to build that pride in the building for our students. I think it's so important for them to have a building and sense of belonging they are proud of.

SV: One of my biggest points of pride is definitely the family aspect of our staff. We are one big family. Ask anyone in the student union building and you’ll hear about how well we get along and how much we love what we do and how well we work together to serve the campus community. It's a fun place to be.

KM: My biggest point of pride is being able to supervise such an outstanding student staff of building assistants and building managers. As I mentioned, these are students who are really dedicated to the mission of our building and providing the best, safest experience to their peers. Working with my team every day is really a privilege for me and I view it as a great learning opportunity to develop my own leadership skills.

UR: What would you like people to know about your office that they may not know already?

AG: That myself and our entire staff are here to serve anyone, our guests, our students, anyone who enters the building. No question is stupid. We get so many different questions at the Information Desk and I just want people to feel comfortable and that they're valued and respected. We are here to serve you in the best way that we can.

SV: As of Fall 2019, we are now the university-wide Lost and Found, so any lost items across the campus will get turned in to the Information Desk. We have an online database called Crowdfind where we log all of the items. We have access to it and there is a link on the MSU homepage which allows students access to look through the database of found items. Anyone can put in a claim for an item on the website, call the Information Desk, or come in person to the desk and we will try to help them. We log all of the items turned in to us and if there are identifying characteristics, we try to reach out to that person to return it to them as quickly as possible.

KM: I think I would like the Kutztown campus to know just how versatile our building is. This is a building with more than 100,000 square-feet of usable space where we see more than 5,000 students on an average weekday. We really are the living room of the campus, the centerpiece of the campus. We encourage anyone to come visit our building, visit our offices and see what types of student-oriented services that we house.

UR: How can the campus community learn more or become involved with your office?

SV: We have the MSU homepage which provides a lot of information about the building and all of the services. Also, come into the building and stop by the desk! We are always happy to meet the KU community and help them as best we can.

KM: I would encourage the faculty and students to come by - just come in and say hi. We're all friendly here, we're really looking out for each and every one of them. They can also visit our website or visit us on Facebook. We advertise a lot of events and put up great posts there. Any way we can promote special events, especially student events, going on in the building is key for us to do.

UR: What's your favorite thing about your KU experience?

AG: I have the ability to work with so many different people. We are all here doing so many different things, but every day, Monday through Friday, we are doing everything we can to make sure our students succeed. To have that many people all working toward a common goal, I think, is incredible. I love coming to work, I love what I do, I love our students, I love our staff. I am very fortunate.

SV: Definitely the support system throughout campus. As a student, I always feel the support of other students. I know I can go to my peers and talk to them about experiences. I can go to faculty and ask questions. Everyone is always so open and willing to support each other. That feeling of support campus-wide has been persistent for five years and it is my favorite thing.

KM: My favorite thing about my Kutztown experience is that I am actually a five-time legacy student here at Kutztown. My grandfather, my uncle, two of my aunts and my father have all gone here. My favorite part about having a legacy here is about trying to make an impact where I can. My family that was here before me left their mark here and so I strive every day to continue the good name we have here.

UR: What does “It’s Good to be Golden” mean to you?

AG: It means so much more to me because I was a student here too. Overall, I think it's about taking the opportunity to come here and make yourself golden. Break away from whatever you've gone through and recreate yourself, take the four years or however long you are here and have a wonderful experience; make it golden.

SV: I think “it’s good to be golden” means feeling pride in your community, the KU community and the family aspect of being on campus. You can always come back and feel like you never left because everyone here is always family.

KM: I think being golden means exploring new things and trying new ideas. Gold isn't shiny until you refine it, until you polish it. I think Kutztown provides so many opportunities for students to get involved and try new things, discover and reimagine who they can be. They can polish themselves into Golden Bears.


KUDOS is published twice monthly by the office of University Relations. All issues can be found at www.kutztown.edu/KUDOS. For questions or more information, please contact University Relations at UR@kutztown.edu.