When meeting planners choose to have conferences or events at a university, it delivers a message about valuing learning and education, which are inherent in a college campus, said Ron Diment, director of Conference Services for Villanova University in Radnor Township, Pennsylvania.
“Sending people to a resort with a golf course, that’s a different message,” he said.
Universities are also able to deliver nearly anything a meeting planner could want because “the college campus is truly almost like a minicity itself,” said Kylee Thomas, director of CU Conference Services for the University of Colorado, Boulder.
University of Colorado, Boulder
“When you’re on a college campus, there’s not only a buzz and energy just from the students, but also, it’s a really exciting place to be from an academic perspective,” Thomas said.
Groups will find everything they need on campus: a range of venues, from large theaters to small classrooms; recreation and gym facilities; catering, housing, parking and transportation services; even an IT department, Thomas said.
“The three dynamics of any event: You need a place to sleep, a place to meet and a place to eat. And we can do all of that on campus,” she said.
CU Boulder does not have a conference center, but the university offers plenty of event space throughout campus. The University Memorial Center (UMC) student center, recreational facilities and academic classrooms are among CU’s most-used spaces, Thomas said.
Macky Auditorium can seat more than 2,000 people, and meeting rooms and ballrooms in the UMC can accommodate groups of 100 to 1,200 people. CU Coors Events Center has an 11,200-seat arena, and the 8,570-
square-foot CU Stadium Club at Folsom Field gives guests views of both the field and Boulder’s signature Flatirons.
One of CU’s most distinctive spaces is Fiske Planetarium, which can seat more than 200 people under its dome for star and laser shows. Attendees can also tap into cultural opportunities on campus, Thomas said, including the CU Museum of Natural History, the UMC art gallery or the Heritage Center museum in Old Main, the first building on campus.
University of Missouri
Meeting and event space is available throughout the University of Missouri campus, and if someone has a special need or request, “I try to create space as well,” said Elaina Frede, event operations and guest relations manager for the university.
Much of Mizzou’s space is in the campus’ two student center unions: about 23,000 square feet in the Memorial Student Union and 7,000 square feet in the MU Student Center. The historic Memorial Student Union began as a memorial tower for soldiers who died in World War I. Over the years, wings were added that include several flexible meeting and conference rooms, a 222-seat auditorium and the Mark Twain Ballroom, which can hold about 240 people for dinner, Frede said.
The new MU Student Center was completed in 2010 and includes about a dozen flexible meeting rooms, two lounges and Leadership Auditorium, all equipped with modern technology and amenities, she said.
When people choose to have a meeting or event on a college campus, “it really comes down to that experience,” she said. Besides the variety of meeting space and services, the campus offers history, natural beauty and more, she said. One example is the stately columns in the quad, which are all that remain of Academic Hall, Mizzou’s first building, which burned down in 1892.
“There’s a certain energy to a collegiate campus — and that energy lends itself and can be positive to conferences and meetings,” Frede said, adding, “I think it’s truly about the energy and the experience.”