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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hubs Galore - Finding Our Center

I remember some of the questions of my colleagues when the coffee shop was added to the Trinity library (photo above is a skyward view of the library entry portal). This addition would make the library a hub of campus life. Wait a minute, some wondered, isn't the Coates University Center the hub of campus life? (Their Web page says it is one of them.)

Well, it seems one campus cannot have too many hubs. And since Java City arrived, the hub-bub about what is the true soul of the campus has escalated tremendously. So the questions are: What makes a hub? How many hubs do we actually have? And can one place have an unhealthy hub glut?

Consider this my own take on the hub issue.

What makes a hub?
First, I think people need to go to your venue. If they don't go, you can call it a hub all you want... but it isn't one. I can say I look like Brad Pitt all I want, but I still look like David Brenner. Second, a hub's gotta have food. And third, others must recognize your hub as hub-worthy. It's kind of like when people like your shirt and tell you. Then you know you have a good shirt. Same with a hub. So let's look at Java City, the coffee shop in the library. People loved the coffee shop, so the library did become a hub, and in truth, it didn't siphon too many people away from the University Center. Of course it IS possible that the excellent technological applications and the tremendous collections have made the library a hub. Just kidding.

How many hubs do we have?
Well, there are some who think the Bell Athletic Center is a hub. In addition to athletic facilities, it also has ping-pong and showers (no relation). Table tennis does not make a hub though (see above), so I think the Bell Center isn't truly a hub. I know the faculty and administration are excited about the new The Center for the Science and Innovation. They have included a cafe in the design because they think this will not just be a laboratory, but that people will want to hang out there all the time. This definitely has hub potential with or without the Cafe. The Coates Center has food and mailboxes. Hub.

I have my own hub going, and that is Mabee Hall. This wasn't even my idea originally, but I am now taking credit for it. Mabee will be THE lower campus late-night residential hub of campus. It will be open as a gathering place for students into the early morning hours and the new convenience store/grill will draw people in to either study, hang-out, or just get a snack. This hub will have no excellent technological applications and tremendous book and periodical collections It will have some kind of shake machine that cleans itself, however. And there is even tentative talk of a new campus Welcome Center, that could serve as - you got it - a hub for campus visitors.

Of course there are the wanna-be hubs - the Tower for one, Coach Paul McGinlay's soccer empire for another, the Trinity pool, and the Magic Stones.

Can one place have too many hubs?
Can a campus our size have too many places for people to gather and interact? Can there be so many places that each hub of activity loses its hub aura? Hubs are moving targets. a student can spend an hour in the Coates Center, two hours at the library, plenty of time in the new Science facility and wrap up his or her night in Mabee. Or spend a week in one place and the next in another. We aren't New York City after all.

Our product is learning and our strength is engagement, between faculty and each other, students and each other, and staff and each other. Then, add to it places where students and faculty, faculty and staff, and students and staff can come together. Wow: We are in hub heaven. The better and more plentiful the space, the better the engagement, the better the learning, and the better the social environment.


The Kemps said...

Dear Lord, Tuttle. You do NOT look like that man. (Likely the Mrs. agrees!!)

Law-dog said...

Does anyone really need a list of "hubs" on campus? This sounds like PR for a school we already attend and are likely more familiar with than you. I hope one day soon you realize how out-of-touch with the student body you are.

David Tuttle said...

Wow Law Dog. I have no feelings. It is meant to be light and humorous. Not sure how you connect my take on centers of campus life with being out of touch. Happy to chat with you if you have issues with my level of connection with students. Come visit with me any time. Or call my cell: 861-6422.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

The idea of a campus hub could also be defined and evaluated by the amount of traffic (students) that go through or spend time in that area. Cleary, with the limited places to eat on campus and the often made complaint that the campus is a bubble, the eating areas will have high traffic and by default be considered a "hub”. For the students who read this blog they will agree that the campus "hubs" change every year or with every class. Freshman might consider certain study lounges as a hub or "the guy/girl's" room down the hall. Sophomores might venture up to the library or consider one of the academic buildings a hub (Pre-med?). I suppose i should be honest and mention that for those rushing the Greek system that the fraternity or sorority house might be a hub for the spring semester! Students can also be seen segregated in the library. Normally certain groups can always be found in the back of the library or in one corner or another. Like everyone else, trinity students find their niche on campus and whether this particular area is well defined or not (specific location or a specific group) we work hard to get everything done wherever and whenever we can!

Music Girl said...

I disagree with Law-dog.
1. The description for the blog say, "This blog is a way for me to be able to communicate with students, parents, colleagues, and visitors about my experiences at Trinity University." So it's not just for students who already attend.
2. I don't think Dean Tuttle is out of touch with us at all.

Anonymous said...

I honestly don't see "the bubble" remark as a complaint. There are drawbacks to a school of any size, but I believe we all knew Trinity was small when we chose to go here. Sure, "the bubble" can seem like a barrier from surrounding San Antonio at times, but it also provides us with comprehensive social, academic, and living environments.

David Tuttle said...

Thank you jbecks and Music Girl. Anonymous, I have had thoughts about the Bubble. I wrote about it in 2003 when I was doing Trinitonian Columns (might have to cut and paste):

Harry Wallace said...

Enough hubs, need more spokes