College Station, Texas
Although many colleges today have on-campus conference centers, Texas A&M was ahead of its time: The university built the 11-story J. Earl Rudder Conference and Event Center, better known as Rudder Tower, in 1974 to host meetings, conferences and events.
Texas A&M’s University Center and Special Events oversees and manages about 80 rooms in Rudder Tower, the Memorial Student Center, the Koldus Student Services Building and All Faiths Chapel, said associate director Stephen Senkel.
Rudder Tower has 19,000 square feet of meeting space, including rooms for up to 200 people. In 2012, the university began a phased project to refresh the tower with new carpet, fresh paint and updated technology, Senkel said.
The Rudder Theatre Complex next door has a 250-seat forum, a 750-seat theater, a 2,500-seat auditorium and a 6,000-square-foot exhibit hall.
A&M’s new Memorial Student Union opened in April 2012; the center has meeting rooms, lounges, dining halls and plenty of “student spaces that can become event spaces for us,” said Doug Burns, hospitality and events manager.
In addition to the services and amenities that A&M offers — catering, on-campus housing and even transportation — the difference between having a meeting at a hotel and having a meeting on a college campus comes down to community.
“A&M is rich in tradition,” Senkel said. “You see the use of the word ‘howdy’ on campus a lot, and if you make eye contact with someone walking by, they’ll probably say howdy to you. You see that, you feel that in A&M; you can’t get away from it.”