Let us help you with your next event! Event Services is your solutions center for planning an event on campus. Whether it’s a large outdoor event on the Stafford Commons, a conference in our newly renovated Talley Student Union or a meeting, our team is here to assist you with the reservation as well as catering, printing and general event planning to make your next event a success! Learn more about:

ballroomWith a combined 70 years of event planning experience, we are here to help you plan a successful event. We have spaces to accommodate small group meetings and a new Ballroom with a capacity up to 1200 attendees. In addition to our established meeting rooms we also offer reservable space for outdoor events. We are excited to work with you in coordinating meeting locations and food needs, reserving support equipment, coordinating publication resources, transportation, and other logistics to ensure your event/meeting guests have a pleasant experience. Get started now with an online request or give us a call.
Contact Event Services
In Person: 102 Witherspoon Student Center
By Email: usc_reservations@ncsu.edu
By Phone: 919-515-2249
Online: Online Request Form
Helpful Links:
Thompson Hall Reservations
Sustainability in the Student Centers
Event Services Guidelines (pdf)
Partnership Fund (pdf)
Room Capacities (pdf)
Room Rental Rates (pdf)
Equipment Rental Rates (pdf)
Staffing Fees (pdf)
Alcohol Request Form (pdf)
NC State Police – Special Events Request
Special Event Reservation (pdf)
Outdoor Event Request (pdf)
cateringWe have a wide variety of options to serve your culinary needs within the University Student Centers. We can help you find a menu to complement your next event through RAVE! Catering menu, one of our new dining options in the building or prepaid meal cards. We will help you find the option that is right for you and your budget. Simply note that you would like catering on your reservation and we will contact you or you can call us today to get started.
Contact Event Services
In Person: 102 Witherspoon Student Center
By Email: usc_reservations@ncsu.edu
By Phone: 919-515-2249
Helpful Links:
Rave! Catering
Alcohol Request Form
ballroomOur professional and student staff are highly trained to support your program with quality customer service. In addition to our excellent ambassadorial staff, we offer high quality A/V equipment that will further enhance your program. On the day of your event, our building managers and event staff will provide attentive detail to your event needs and confer with you personally to ensure your event is a success.
Contact Event Services
In Person: 102 Witherspoon Student Center
By Email: usc_reservations@ncsu.edu
By Phone: 919-515-2249

As part of Campus Enterprises – NC State’s lead division for retail and hospitality – we are prepared to supplement our superb departmental services, with those of other Campus Enterprises units as well as our campus partners. To assist with the event planning and make your event a success, here are just a few of the ways we can help:

  • We can help alleviate your printing concerns with our in-house printing services.
  • We can help make your event a sustainable event.
  • We can assist with the coordination shipping and receiving packages.
  • We can save you the runaround and schedule a logistics coordination meeting with other campus resources needed for your event (transportation, security, etc).
  • We can customize your event with digital signage, directional signage and more.

Have an idea? Need assistance? Let us help!

Contact Event Services
In Person: 102 Witherspoon Student Center
By Email: usc_reservations@ncsu.edu
By Phone: 919-515-2249
Helpful Links:
Online Event & Reservation Form
Sustainability in the Student Centers
Lactation Room

Who do I contact to book a room or venue on campus?

In the University Student Centers, please contact the Event Services office at 919-515-2249 or email: usc_reservations@ncsu.edu

What fees should I be aware of when planning an event?

In general, you should be prepared to pay fees for:

  • Room rental
  • Set-up and tear-down
  • Facilities Work Orders
  • Catering
  • Parking Permits
  • Staff to work your event
  • Sometimes some fees do not apply, but this depends on the specific needs of each event.

Who can reserve space within the University Student Centers?

All are welcomed to reserve space within the University Student Centers; student organizations, university departments and all non-affiliated entities of the university.

What kinds of decorations are allowed in the meeting rooms?

Decorations, signs and other materials must not be attached to the walls, doors, painted or papered surfaces of the building with tape or staples.  Poster putty, provided by the client, may be used. All materials must be removed at the conclusion of the meeting or event.

How can I advertise for my event?

Digital signage, poster boards on easels, and sidewalk chalk in approved locations, please consult the Event Services office at 919-515-2249 or email: usc_reservations@ncsu.edu.

What is the largest accommodating venue?

State Ballroom, Stewart Theatre, and Witherspoon Cinema

How early can I submit a reservation?

Our submittal process is dictated on the classification of the reservation.  For example, recognized annual University events (e.g. New Student Orientation, Open House, and Commencement) may be scheduled up to two years in advance.

Special Events (e.g. Ballroom programs, multi-day/multi-venue events) may be scheduled up to two years in advance.

For the full submission window, please consult the Event Services Guidelines

May I bring in food and drinks for my event?

What are the transportation/parking accommodations, where should guests park?

Depending on the time and location of your event there are various parking options. Reynolds Coliseum parking deck and Dan Allen parking deck are available for public parking. Our reservations staff will be happy to coordinate your parking needs.

What are my responsibilities as an organizer/host?

Be present at all times during the event, and respond to any problems or complications that may arise.  Be the primary contact for making reservations and arrangements for all space being used for the event, support, and equipment services.  Work with the appropriate departments to arrange for needed rooms.  Ensure that event participants abide by university policies (e.g., smoking restrictions, standards of conduct, alcohol policy, parking).  Pay the cost of additional equipment and/or staff if required to accommodate the event.  Arrange for chaperones if any participants are under 18 years old.  Make and communicate parking arrangements with guests, including parking of buses and/or vendor vehicles.  Arrange to direct participants to both the facility and specific room when they arrive.

What do I do if I decide NOT to use the space I reserved?

Contact University Student Centers Event Services office at 919-515-2249 or email usc_reservations@ncsu.edu

How do I get my student organization officially registered?

Student organizations are registered through the office of Student Involvement (formerly SORC) located in Harrelson Hall room 103, 919-515-3323; StudentInvolvement.ncsu.edu/

How do I connect to the internet in the building?

Our facilities offer guest wireless accounts and wired Ethernet connections.  Due to construction in the Talley Student Union, please inquire with our reservation staff regarding available wireless coverage.

Where should I check for lost and found items?

Contact Information Services at 919-515-3138 or uscinformationdesk@ncsu.edu

How would I receive help during my event?

Our staff is always willing to help, you can reach the building manager on duty at 919-255-0676 and Information Services can be reached at 919-515-3138 or uscinformationdesk@ncsu.edu

Can the Event Services office help me plan my event?

Yes, we are happy to help plan your events within the University Student Centers. 

How do I order catering?

For events within our University Student Centers, please contact the Event Services office at 919-515-2249 or email usc_reservations@ncsu.edu.  For catering needs outside our facilities please contact Rave! Catering  directly at 919-515-2023.  All catering orders can be submitted online at catering.ncsu.edu

What if I want to use a different caterer for my event?

Rave! Catering is the exclusive caterer for Talley Student Center and Witherspoon Student Center. All catering services are coordinated by the Event Services office. Exceptions may be granted under special circumstances to use external catering. To request an exception, a Catering Agreement Form must be completed and returned to the Event Services office no later than three weeks prior to the date of the event. The University Student Centers and University Dining will review the agreement to determine if an exception is granted. If an exception is granted, the approved caterer is required to pay an external catering fee and to abide by the food handling practices in the Catering Agreement. Catering Agreement forms are available in the Event Services office.  For more details please consult the Food and Beverage Guidelines

What if I need special sound equipment or video equipment for my event?

Event Services will schedule a meeting with the client to discuss how we can accommodate equipment needs.

Can I serve alcohol at my event?

Permission to use alcohol on a per-event basis requires the “Request for Permission to Serve Alcohol at NC State University Form.” The form must be submitted at least three weeks prior to the scheduled event date. The director of University Student Centers, the Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Enterprises, and the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Business (or designee) must approve the application.

I want to support NC State’s commitment to sustainability. How can I host a more sustainable event?

Contact the Event Services office at 919-515-2249 or email usc_reservations@ncsu.edu for sustainable options.

your laptop...a gaming console...with others.

Find a place to connect between classes and meetings in one of the many indoor or outdoor lounges at Talley and Witherspoon. Talley Student Union will have a number of places for you to connect your laptop, phone or other device for collaboration or entertainment. We will also have a gaming lounge next to Talley Market in the Pavilions, where you can bring your own console or check one out from the information desk. The Campus Cinema is your place to relax and connect with friends while enjoying a movie. The Campus Cinema is a partnership between the University Student Centers and the Union Activities Board (UAB) to provide the a quality on campus theatre experience. Learn more about:

We have reinvented gaming in the University Student Centers. Keeping with the theme of flexible spaces, the new gaming area will be in the heart of the Pavilions at Talley Student Union. You can check out equipment at the information desk and head on over to the gaming lounge located next to Talley Market. Perhaps you want to play a game of pool while taking in the scenery of the Stafford Commons. With these locations, you are sure to be in the center of the action, near great food options, and able to enjoy great company!

We’ll have a map of locations that will be available in the new Talley Student Union for connecting electronic devices such as laptops, game consoles and mobile phones.

connectThe Campus Cinema is a 450 seat theatre and and lecture hall located in Witherspoon Student Center (Room 117). The Cinema program is a partnership between the UAB Films Committee, which is responsible for the films program, and the University Student Centers, which provides Event Management and concessions. The Cinema program runs a variety of features from independent films to 2nd release Hollywood blockbusters. In the summer of 2013, the University Student Centers upgraded from 35mm to digital projection to keep a vibrant and relevant films program. Ticket prices are set by the UAB and are $2.00 for NC State Students, faculty or Staff with a valid ID and $3.00 for the public. Visit the Campus Cinema webpage for the updated schedule including Free movies and Sneak Previews.

for a laptop…a textbook…a snack or a beverage!

As a member of Campus Enterprises, NC State’s lead division of retail and hospitality, the University Student Centers house a variety of services to enhance your time on campus. Whether you need something to eat at Talley, grabbing concessions during a movie at Witherspoon, purchasing the latest t-shirt at the Bookstore, getting your Wolfpack One Card, or picking up your custom printed book at Wolf Xpress, we are there! Our staff are busy making campus better everyday and we hope to see you!

nc state bookstoresFor nearly sixty years, NC State Bookstore has been NC State’s official source for textbooks, computer supplies, officially licensed Wolfpack clothing and much more. Proceeds generated through the Bookstore are returned to the University in support of student scholarships and academic aid. In May 2011, NC State Bookstores closed the doors to its Dunn Avenue home of 52 years to make room for the Talley Student Union Addition. When Talley is complete in late 2014, the Bookstore will transform into a fully revisioned, state-of-the-art retail venue — an anchor of the new Student Center — featuring goods and services befitting a world-class university. It will even feature a Clinique® counter and a Starbucks Coffee®. Until the renovation is complete, the Bookstore will be located on the ground floor of Harrelson Hall.

Wolf Xpress LogoWolf Xpress is proud to announce the arrival of brand-new, state-of-the-art documenting equipment including our impressive Ricoh Pro C901s Graphic Arts Edition performance printer, and our brand-new Canon imagePROGRAF W8400 wide-format printer. So whether you need fifty color posters or five thousand coil-bound course packs, you can rely on Wolf Xpress – right here on campus.

Wolfpack One CardIt all starts with your campus ID card, which can be used to access a variety of services on campus; including our AllCampus debit spending account and new Wolfpack One Debit MasterCard® account.

The University Student Centers operates the Concession Stand in Witherspoon to enhance your cinema experience. Bring a friend, grab some popcorn, a soft drink, your favorite candy and enjoy the show!


Ticket Central serves as the centralized box office for the visual and performing arts programs of Arts NC State.

To learn more about NC State’s vending machines or to report a problem, visit the University Dining website for complete information.

ATMs are located on the ground floor of Harrelson Hall.

late at night...with a view...on the go...with others!

The new Talley Student Union has an exciting lineup of new dining options, starting with four quick-service restaurants, a convenience store, gourmet bakery and ice cream shop.

Jason's Deli Red Sky Pizza Tuffy's Diner
Los Lobos yates mill Port City Java
Talley Market 1887 one earth

with your peers…your campus…your community…around the world!

There are many ways to get involved and become an engaged student on campus. Below are some of the ways you can get connected to campus and become part of the Wolfpack. Not finding something? The office of Student Involvement is your go to place to get started.

Find an audience

Express your creative side through one of the many fine and performing arts with ARTS NC STATE.

Engage Your Peers

Part of Student Leadership and Engagement, the Chaplains’ Cooperative Ministry and Center for Student Leadership, Ethics & Public Service (CSLEPS), are here to help you get engaged both on and off campus.

office of student involvement

Make Your Voice Heard

The Student Centers Board of Directors serves as the primary advisory board to the departments in the University Student Centers. Learn more about their work and how to get involved.

Foster an Inclusive Campus

The Women’s Center, GLBT Center, Multicultural Student Affairs, and the African American Cultural Center provide a variety of programs and services to increase awareness and build relationships.

Join Organizations

Comprised of over 600 student groups, including UAB and Student Government, the office of Student Involvement is your place to find an organization on campus.

a work of art...a publication...an idea.

NC State has a legacy and commitment to the arts dating back to the 1920s with the founding of the Music Department. But visual and performing arts is not all that you can create in the Student Centers. Student Media offers a variety of opportunities to write, work and speak your stories, ideas, music and more. Additionally, Student Involvement can help you bring your ideas to life, stop by and see how they can help.

ARTS NC StateArts NC State is your go to stop for the visual and performing arts at NC State. Whether it’s classes at the Crafts Center, a play in Thompson Hall, hearing the Marching Band, or one of the many other opportunities Arts NC State offers, there is something for you. Learn more about their programs, classes and services at www.ncsu.edu/arts.

Arts NC State also conducts the Student Art Purchase Program annually purchasing original artwork of NC State students. You can see this on display at Witherspoon, the Crafts Center, Talley, Student Health Center, and the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Located in Witherspoon Student Center, the African American Cultural Center Gallery hosts a variety of exhibits on culture, history and more. Stop by and take in this resource that the AACC has to offer.

Technician, Nubian Message, WKNC 88.1 FM, Agromeck and Windhover are all Activities and Publications within Student Media. Student Media serves as a public forum for free expression while also gaining hands on experience in a media and learning about the standards of journalism and ethics. Learn more about Student Media

Student Involvement is your starting point for bringing an idea to life. Whether it’s your organization’s retreat, a new program or training session, the staff in Student Involvement can help you create your vision. Learn more about Student Involvement


Visitor's CenterThe University Student Centers is committed to providing a welcoming environment for everyone. When considering your next visit we have compiled resources to make your next visit to campus a great one. These include General Resources, Family Resources, and Sustainability Resources. Potential students and families should also check out the E. Carroll Joyner Visitor Center.

Gender Neutral Restrooms
We are constantly considering how to make our facilities more inclusive. We have a number of single use lockable restrooms in our facilities. Their locations are: Thompson Hall (307 and at the Crafts Center rooms 135 & 137), Talley Student Union Phase II – Coming Soon! The GLBT Center has compiled a complete list of gender neutral restrooms on campus.
Getting around campus can be tricky. NC State has a Mobility Access Map to assist you in planning your visit. Witherspoon Student Center, Talley Student Union and Thompson Hall are all accessibile buildings. Price Music Center is a partially accessible building. If you have specific questions about our facilities, we are here to help!
Getting Around
Find a parking spot and ride the Wolfline or walk! Check out this helpful walk times map and enjoy our campus including the Rocky Branch Creek Greenway which connects to the City of Raleigh Greenway Trail System.

As you plan your next visit to campus we have compiled some resources we provide to help make your visit to NC State and the University Student Center memorable.

  1. Walk Times Map
    There is a lot to see on campus, this map will aid you in planning your route.
  2. Dining Hours & Locations
    University Dining has a variety of venues around campus to serve you. Stop in and visit! 
  3. Single Use Restrooms 
    We have a number of single use restrooms in our facilities that double as family restrooms and gender neutral restrooms. The GLBT Center compiles a list of these restrooms on campus. 
  4. Changing Stations 
    Many of our restrooms in Witherspoon, Thompson and Talley have baby changing stations in them. 
  5. Lactation Rooms 
    Campus is continually adding new lactation rooms. In January 2014 Talley Student Union will open its new room on the 4th floor. Contact Event Services to schedule this space. 

NC State is committed to sustainability and the University Student Centers are working towards that goal as well. When you visit campus here are some resources and information to help you join in that commitment.

Alternative Transit
Ditch driving and travel around campus on the Wolfline, a convenient network of buses powered by cleaner, low-sulfur diesel. Or, skip the streets and hit NC State’s growing network of greenway trails and pedestrian walkways through campus.
Green Events
Campus events have the opportunity to earn Certified Wolfpack Green status for sustainable actions such as zero waste, use of alternative transit, purchasing eco-friendly materials and saving energy or water. 
Local, NC Food
As a land-grant university with agriculture roots, NC State is increasing its purchase of food grown locally and within North Carolina for use in University Dining centers. Several campus gardens and a weekly farmer’s market also supply the campus community with fresh, local produce. 
Green Cleaning
Campus buildings are cleaned with Green Seal-certified products, including an innovative ionized water sanitation system, recycled content paper products, microfiber mops that reduce water usage by up to 90 percent over traditional style mops, and HEPA filtration vacuum systems that remove 99.9 percent of airborne particles.
Saving Energy
With hundreds of campus buildings, utilities are among the university’s largest expenses. Energy-saving technologies are regularly installed on campus, including a combined heat and power utility plant that saves NC State more than $4 million a year. Help save even more energy by hitting the switch when you leave a room on campus. 
High Performance Building
Nearly a dozen campus buildings have been certified or are seeking certification as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) buildings. Buildings that earn this certification are equipped with many energy and water saving features, which save natural resources as well as utility and maintenance costs. Talley Student Union will be one of these LEED Buildings.
Waste Reduction and Recycling
NC State’s goal is zero waste, so while you’re on campus be sure to recycle at indoor or outdoor collection stations. Blue bins are for traditional recyclable products and yellow bins are specifically for electronics-related disposal. The university also composts waste from its dining halls. Waste Reduction & Recycling provides information on the A-Z of Recycling on Campus to help divert waste from the landfill. While in the University Student Centers you will find options for recycling as well and in some instances composting at events.
Stay Hydrated, Bring a Water Bottle
In the last decade, NC State has cut its water consumption by almost half through efforts such as implementing trayless dining, installing low-flow plumbing fixtures and using collected rainwater to irrigate some areas of campus. Help save water while you’re on campus by turning off the tap when not in use. If you bring your own reusable bottle or cup, be on the lookout for convenient water bottle refilling stations, which are installed in some campus buildings including in the student centers at Thompson Hall and Talley Student Union.
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
If your wheels are propelled by electricity instead of gasoline, NC State has more than a dozen electric vehicle charging stations on campus so your vehicle can power up while you visit campus. Use this map to find your way to the nearest plug.

with us…in our facilities…to make a difference.

The University Student Centers as a department, is always looking for enthusiastic and dependable students to continue the legacy of student leadership and management of the Student Centers. Working for the University Student Centers not only provides a flexible schedule, but also provides a dynamic environment to learn and enhance skills that will benefit you upon graduation. To view our current student employee job descriptions and apply online, visit go.ncsu.edu/studentemployment

Student Spotlight

Chelsea Chelsea manages the information desk and concession stand at Witherspoon Student Center. She works every week to make sure we offer excellent service and snacks to all of our students and guests in Witherspoon. Chelsea is one of our many dedicated employees who helps make our campus a better place.

My Name is: Chelsea Krieger
Major: Art Studies
Hometown: Durham, NC
What I do: Information Services Manager
First day with the Student Centers: July 29, 2013
Favorite thing about NC State: Diversity
Interesting fact about me: I LOVE Cheerwine!
Advice about the Student Centers: Witherspoon Student Center is OPEN! It’s a great resource for a less-busy place to relax or study between classes, most people don’t think to come by.

Welcome from the Director

tim hoganWelcome to the University Student Centers! As part of Campus Enterprises, NC State’s lead division for retail and hospitality, we are committed to providing quality events and facilities for our students and campus community. Additionally, we pride ourselves in our student employees, who help manage our facilities daily. When taken together, the services we provide, the facilities we maintain and the programs occurring within them, provide a strong foundation encouraging community building and supporting student success. So come in, take a look around and if you aren’t finding what you need or want, let us or the Student Centers Board of Directors know. We want to help you Connect, Discover, Engage and Create.  Tomorrow better think fast. Because we’re thinking faster!

Tim Hogan, University Student Centers

Learn more about

The heart of the union is not locked in the steel and concrete of a building, but rather in the Union organization. The Union building is merely the instrumentality through which the union idea is accomplished.

Gerald O.T. Erdahl, Union Director 1949-1961

The University Student Centers has a rich history tracing its roots back to the early American College Union Movement. 1949 marked the arrival of the first union director at NC State, Gerald O.T. Erdahl, who trained at the Wisconsin Union under legend Porter Butts, father of the college union movement. In spring of 1951, the College Union was founded with comprising a board of directors, today’s Student Centers Board of Directors, and a board of chairmen, today’s Union Activities Board. These two groups carry the legacy of the original idea to enhance campus life at NC State. 1954 marked the opening of the North Carolina State College Union, later renamed the Erdahl-Cloyd Union.

Today, the college union idea thrives with various departments and divisions coming together in multiple facilities to enhance and transform student life on campus. Coupled with the efforts of hundreds of student leaders and student employees, the University Student Centers strengthen the campus community and provide a vibrant campus experience for students to explore, grow and connect.   WATCH: Role of the College Union Video

The University Student Centers is a proud member of the Association of College Unions International.

Historical Timeline of the University Student Centers – (under development)

Our department is charged with the management and care of the four facilities comprising the University Student Centers. Totaling over 400,000 square feet, these facilities include:

Our Mission

To provide a clean, safe, and welcoming environment for the NC State community. In support of the university’s educational mission, the Student Centers will provide support to events and activities that will enrich the student experience. Through formal and informal experiences, the University Students Centers serve as a cornerstone for student growth, learning and involvement.

Our Vision

To become a leader on campus in serving the needs of students, staff, faculty, alumni and guests with a reputation for the highest quality of service and facilities.

Our Values

  • Excellence
    Provide high quality service through knowledge, professionalism, and friendliness.
  • Initiative
    Solve problems before they occur, take the lead, exceed expectations.
  • Respect
    Respect those around you, the facilities, and yourself.
  • Students
    Regard students as central to the operations, governance, and function of the student centers.
  • Community
    Provide space and opportunities to build community and strengthen the Wolfpack family.
  • Stewardship
    Promote the responsible use and management of human, fiscal, and environmental resources.

Our Staff

Tim Hogan, Director, heads up the Student Centers with a talented team of professionals and students to enhance student life, build community and provide a quality experience in the facilities. Learn more about these staff in our staff directory (coming soon). The Student Centers Board of Directors serve as an advisory board to our department and other senior leaders who have departments in the facilities.

The University Student Centers is a unit of Campus Enterprises – NC State’s lead division for retail and hospitality.

The following is a brief list of latest Student Center news. For a full list, please visit: CampusEnterprises.ncsu.edu

NC State Takes Part in National Initiative to Make Campus Healthier

November 16, 2014 (Raleigh, N.C.) — NC State University will join the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) in a commitment to improve campus health by formalizing guidelines around food, nutrition, physical activity and programming. Through the PHA’s new Healthier Campus Initiative, NC State units agree to implement or strengthen 23 wellness-related guidelines over the…

NC State’s Yates Mill Bakery to Offer Online Ordering

Yates Mill Bakery, located within Talley Market in Talley Student Union, has been providing NC State with sweet treats since fall 2013. To sweeten the deal, the bakery now offers an online ordering portal to make it easier for parents and loved ones to surprise their students with cakes and cupcakes made just for them….

Talley Student Union Implements Post-Consumer Composting

Talley Student Union will pilot two post-consumer composting stations this fall, making it the first building on the NC State campus to provide such a service. Students, faculty and staff dining in Talley will now have the option to place their leftovers and compostable items into a compost bin rather than a landfill bin. The…

Project Vision

The Talley Student Union will not only address deficiencies in the existing student center and adjacent NC State Bookstore operation, but it will also bring NC State into a new era of student life. It will:

  • …be a hub for quality, student life experiences. Spaces will support student academics; help students balance life and academics; enable student collaboration, interaction and innovation; encourage personal growth and development.
  • …become the center of the campus community. Provide students a community as the center of campus life that invigorates and invites participation and growth.
  • …embrace the spirit, image and character of NC State University. The design exemplifies the values and history of the university and engenders pride of place for the campus community. A new landmark that is mindful of and respectful toward the existing campus character.
  • …be pedestrian oriented. Serve as a campus crossroads as well as a destination.
  • … incorporate transparent design, with clear views from the inside out and outside in. Visually connect spaces within the building and floor-to-floor, using volume and natural light to create open, airy and inviting spaces.
  • …be sustainable and environmentally friendly. Utilize innovative design solutions to construct an energy-efficient building. The project will achieve a minimum USGBC certification of LEED Silver.
  • …be built according to budget. Stay consistent with the budget not to exceed a student fee of $290 per year. Revenue-generating functions will provide additional funding for space that exceeds the original, programmed square footage.


The History of College Unions and Talley Student Union

The college union of today, with its conglomeration of meeting space, recreational and cultural programming, common areas, dining options, retail sale3s and campus offices, is originally descended from debating societies at Oxford and Cambridge universities. The Cambridge Union was founded in 1815 when three debating societies joined to form a larger debating association, i.e., a “union.” The Oxford Union followed suit in 1823. As the 19th century progressed, the Oxford Union took on characteristics of the gentlemen’s clubs of the era by adding a library and a smoking room and by serving coffee and wine to members.

At the turn of the twentieth century, many American colleges were dismal places that lacked residence halls, recreational facilities and food service. Some faculty and administrators were particularly concerned by the general lack of a university “commons,” a place where people from all parts of the university might meet and interact outside the classroom. President Woodrow Wilson, former president of Princeton University and an early proponent of the “British idea” of “communal life” at colleges, urged administrators to remember that “a college is not only a body of studies but a mode of association.”

The U.S. version of the college union started out as an attempt to address these concerns. The first college union in the United States, Harvard Union, was a debating society founded in 1880 at Harvard University. It took almost 20 years for the Harvard Union to acquire facilities that would allow it to fulfill its intended club-like social functions; in the meantime, the first college union facility, Houston Hall, opened at the University of Pennsylvania in 1896. Houston Hall was designed to be a place where all parts of the university could participate “in a wholesome social life.” The union’s functions extended far beyond those of its forebears to include a swimming pool, a gym, bowling alleys, a game room, an auditorium, office space and—crucially—a lunch counter. Also crucial to the concept of Houston Hall, and of the college union in general, was the notion that students must govern it.

College unions were slow to catch on at first. Beginning in the 1920s, however, a man named Porter Butts—known as the “father of the college union movement”—made it his lifelong mission to popularize the idea that every college needed a union that could function as a campus community center. After leading a fundraising campaign to construct a union building at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Butts became the first director of the Wisconsin Union in 1926. He had a strong impact on the development of a college union at NC State through his training of a student named Gerald Erdahl, who worked in the Wisconsin Union and graduated from Wisconsin in 1940. Erdahl drew on that valuable experience when he became the first director of a fledgling college union at NC State in 1949.

NC State’s official student-governed College Union organization was founded in 1951. The Union initially comprised the following student committees: gallery (art exhibitions), forum (speakers), films, theater, activities, games, outing (outdoor recreations), social (mixers), dance, music and publicity. The union’s first building (now the Erdahl-Cloyd wing of D.H. Hill Library) opened in 1954.

As the university expanded, the union outgrew its facility, and in 1972 the organization moved into the newly constructed Talley Student Center. NC State’s student body president at the time, Cathy Sterling, expressed concern that the union was becoming less of a student-run organization and more of a mere facility that was run by the administration. “By the time I came in . . . the student union had no connection with the word ‘union,’” she said. “It was just the building.”

The movement away from the core union idea and toward the concept of a multipurpose student center that paid for itself through student fees and retail operations could be seen across the nation as unions skyrocketed in popularity. In 1949 there were about 150 college unions; by 1961, that number had quadrupled to about 600; and in 1971 there were about 1,200 college unions nationwide. The relatively high inflation rates of the 1970s and the recession of the early 1980s combined to place greater economic pressure on higher education, which strengthened the perception of the union as an auxiliary enterprise with a primarily economic function.

Talley Student Center is now part of University Student Centers, a multi-unit, multi-facility umbrella organization that still performs the functions of the original College Union—and much more besides. University Student Centers includes Talley, Thompson Hall (University Theatre, Crafts Center), Price Music Center (Music Department), and Witherspoon Student Center (African American Cultural Center, Campus Cinema, Student Media).

NC State’s Student Life Master Plan, completed in 2008, calls for Talley to be renovated and expanded to serve an ever-increasing student population and to meet the needs of today’s mobile, information-hungry students. The renovation is intended to return Talley to its college union roots by making it a hub of student life that functions as the center of the campus community. In addition, the University Student Centers board of directors, a student-led governing body, has decided to take that effort one step further by changing the facility’s name. When phase I of the new Talley opens in September 2013 — 59 years to the month after the first College Union building opened — it will greet the world as Talley Student Union, a landmark building that helps students learn and grow beyond the classroom.

Directions to University Student Centers

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Contact Information Services

In Person: Witherspoon Student Center
By Email: uscinformationdesk@ncsu.edu
By Phone: 919-515-3138


Postal Mailing Address

University Student Centers
Campus Box 7294
Raleigh, NC 27695

Building Locations

Talley Student Union / 2610 Cates Ave
Witherspoon / 2810 Cates Ave
Thompson Hall / 2241 Dunn Ave
Price Music Center / 2620 Cates Ave

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