1Capen rollout presents a welcome change for students

The completion of 1Capen marks the end of phase two of the Heart of the Campus completion


Modern. Innovative. The DMV. No matter which phrase comes to mind when stepping inside 1Capen, it is making an impression on the students of UB.

1Capen opened three weeks ago and kicked off the semester with 1,900 student visits on Monday, according to Scott Weber, vice president of Student Life. The center is the first “one-stop-shop” on campus looking to consolidate and streamline student services. Students can visit 1Capen for help with everything from getting a parking pass, to their student ID, to answering financial aid questions.

The $12.9 million renovation marks the second phase of the Heart of the Campus initiative, UB’s plan to recreate the central academic spine. It spans 17,000 square feet covering Capen, Norton and Talbert Hall.

“It's made the whole campus system more organized and I don’t feel like I'm lost here,” said Isabelle Bertino, a senior English major. “I feel like they can help you with any of your questions with financial aid and campus living. I like how they turned the empty space here at Capen into something more useful.”

Students enter 1Capen through the ground floor and are greeted by a concierge-style desk to help them identify the department they need to meet with. The first few days of operation, students faced wait times from just a few minutes up to sometimes 50 minutes or longer.

The Buffalo Room, a high-end space adjacent to the 1Capen facility, acted as an overflow space to accommodate the high crowds. In the future, it will be used as a space for President Satish Tripathi to make university announcements or to host guest speakers like Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The 1Capen steering committee will be evaluating the hub’s efficiency and looking for ways to improve wait times and student services in the spring, Weber said. Besides losing power briefly on Tuesday, Weber said he is proud of how the center is being received and said the rollout has been mostly smooth.

Chelsey Omoma, a social sciences major, encountered the power outage on Tuesday. Omoma said the wait times “felt longer” in 1Capen – she reportedly waited 50 minutes for help with a Financial Aid question. Still, Omoma said 1Capen was a “nice surprise coming back to campus.”

Some of the departments will maintain their original front offices, like the Parking and Transportation department in the Ellicott Complex, Weber said. Other offices, like the Card Office, will be freeing up space on campus for future developments.

Weber said there are no current plans for moving anything into these empty offices in the Student Union. Instead, the university will be hiring a national consultant to evaluate future options for the SU.

“We think it’s time to sit back and evaluate how the Student Union is operating,” Weber said. “There’s not an immediate desire to fill those spaces, maybe temporarily, but we’re trying to be cautious and really look at the Student Union in a holistic way.”

1Diefendorf, the South Campus counterpart to 1Capen is also up and running, with slightly less services. In 1Diefendorf, Parking and Transportation has been available at different times.

“As is the case in 1Capen, the university will continue to evaluate what services are needed and when to best serve our students,” Weber said. “I have no doubt that as our operational understanding improves, adjustments will be made in both 1Capen and 1Diefendorf.”

**Anna Savchenko contributed reporting to this story

Sarah Crowley is the senior news editor and can be reached at sarah.crowley@ubspectrum.com.