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Convening on Campus

For a venue with class, planners should head back to campus. 

Plenty of colleges and universities around the country have upscale conference centers on their campuses. These institutions of higher learning make great settings for meetings. In addition to providing an atmosphere conducive to learning, they also often function as one-stop shops for planners, offering a selection of high-tech audiovisual equipment, professional catering and plenty of elegant venues to choose from. 

These five conference centers on university campuses provide the perfect place for attendees to collaborate and learn. 

Marcum Hotel and Conference Center

Oxford, Ohio

Known for its gorgeous campus and impressive liberal arts curriculum, Miami University was nicknamed the Yale of the West. It’s located in the quaint college town of Oxford, Ohio, where it was established in 1809. Surrounded by lush gardens and historic campus buildings, the Marcum Hotel and Conference Center was built on Miami University’s campus in 1981 and renovated in 2012. Its scenic surroundings, its proximity to Oxford and its hotel make the Marcum a premier meeting destination in the Midwest. 

“It’s a beautiful campus in a quiet spot,” said Amy Poppel, director of the Marcum.

The Marcum offers just under 10,000 square feet of meeting space and 10 meeting rooms to choose from, the largest of which seats 275 theater-style and 150 for banquets. Several conference rooms
and classrooms are available for smaller meetings. The meeting spaces come equipped with ceiling-mounted projectors and a sound system, as well as access to trained IT staff to assist with all of a planner’s technology needs. In addition to its meeting rooms, the Marcum has 55 polished guest rooms for attendees to stay overnight, making it a one-stop shop for meetings or conferences requiring attendees to travel. The Marcum’s exclusive in-house catering provides set menus to choose from but can also work with planners to create custom menus for any event.

Hunter Alumni Center

Cedar City, Utah

Originally founded in 1897 as a teaching school, Southern Utah University is in Cedar City, Utah. It became a college in 1913 and attained university status in 1991. Today, it’s known for its nursing and visual and performing arts programs. The university emphasizes its small class sizes and access to outdoor recreation as major perks of attending. It’s also home to the Hunter Alumni Center, which was built in 1927 as a student center and gymnasium. The center’s historic architecture and selection of event spaces make it a sought-after venue for events of all kinds.

“It’s the ambience of the space that draws people here,” said Bayli Alexander, event coordinator at Southern Utah University. “It’s not your typical event space.”

The Hunter Alumni Center has nine unique spaces for planners to choose from. The Gilbert Great Hall, affectionately nicknamed the Harry Potter Room, is perhaps the most popular, known for its stately architecture and moody feel. It has a capacity of 600 theater-style. Other large spaces include the Charles Hunter Room and the Whiting Room, which can accommodate up to 150 and 100 people, respectively. Six smaller meeting rooms range from conference rooms seating 16 to classrooms seating 40. 

The center offers a range of audiovisual equipment depending on the space, from sound systems to spotlights. Planners have the choice of using the in-house catering company or an outside caterer.

Nigh University Center

Edmond, Oklahoma

The University of Central Oklahoma was founded in 1890, making it one of the oldest universities in the southwestern United States. Located in Edmond, just north of Oklahoma City, this public university is recognized for its education, nursing and music degrees, particularly its jazz studies program. The Nigh University Center, its event space, was built in 1967, and an addition to the center was completed in 1997. The center offers planners a range of indoor and outdoor event spaces to accommodate any event.   

The 9,000-square-foot ballroom is the perfect setting for large events, seating up to 600 theater- style or up to 525 with banquet rounds; it can also be divided into three smaller rooms. The center’s auditorium, Constitution Hall, can seat up to 510. A selection of smaller classrooms and conference rooms of varying sizes are available to choose from, and each of the center’s premium spaces comes equipped with standard audiovisual equipment. The center also offers several spaces for outdoor events, including a picturesque terrace overlooking Broncho Lake. 

The Nigh University Center’s exclusive in-house caterer can provide everything from plated dinners to hors d’oeuvres and also serves alcohol.

Tifton Campus Conference Center

Tifton, Georgia

Located in Tifton, Georgia, the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Science has been contributing to agriculture and sustainability research for over 100 years. The Tifton Campus Conference Center began hosting events in 2005 and has since become a popular destination for large groups, such as faith-based conferences. Tifton’s convenient location and small-town feel make it ideal for attendees to enjoy Georgia’s warm weather and Southern hospitality during their downtime, but the biggest draw of the Tifton Campus Conference Center is its range of options when it comes to event space. 

 “All our space is very, very flexible,” said Kim Rutland, director of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. 

The center offers an impressive 95,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 14,000-square-foot ballroom that can accommodate up to 1,000 people. It can also be split into four smaller rooms seating up to 240. For receptions or formal banquets, the John Hunt Lobby/Atrium provides 2,200 square feet of elegantly decorated space. The center also features several auditoriums, with the John Hunt Auditorium seating over 2,000. A board room and multiple conference rooms can be configured to accommodate groups ranging in size from 12 to 250. 

Planners have access to a wide range of the latest audiovisual equipment and tech for their events. While the Tifton Campus Conference Center doesn’t have an on-site caterer, they work closely with local caterers and campus restaurants to provide an approved catering list for any event.

Conference Center at the Universities at Shady Grove

Rockville, Maryland

Universities at Shady Grove is a regional center for the University System of Maryland, meaning it isn’t a distinct university of its own but rather a collection of universities on one campus. Founded in 1992 and located in Rockville, Maryland, it offers degrees from nine non-competing Maryland universities. Because it’s part of Maryland’s Technology Corridor, it should come as no surprise the Conference Center at Shady Grove is renowned for its technological prowess.

“It’s a unique place to have meetings because it’s cutting edge,” said Steven Thompson, director of conference and event services at Shady Grove. 

Event spaces span four buildings and total 300,000 square feet, so planners have no shortage of meeting spaces to choose from. The 9,000 square foot ballroom can seat up to 1,000 theater-style and up to 350 banquet-style. The university also offers multiple auditoriums and over 100 classrooms, each of which is a smart classroom, meaning the room’s technology is controlled at the lecture podium. It also features a full range of audiovisual equipment for planners to use in any room of their choosing and also boasts high quality streaming capabilities for virtual or hybrid events. On-site technical support is available to help planners utilize the full array of technology at their disposal. Shady Grove has exclusive on-site catering for any event, from receptions to banquets.