ETSU celebrates 'coming home' to modern Culp Center

Brandon Paykamian • Mar 6, 2020 at 8:30 AM

After nearly two years and $45 million in renovations to the East Tennessee State University D.P. Culp Student Center, students were pleased to see the central hub of campus operational once again.

Zamir Shaikh, a senior majoring in microbiology who arrived on campus in 2016, said it’s convenient to have new dining options and a bookstore on campus once again after two years of having to go off-campus for some amenities.

“This is really nice what they’ve done. It matches up to what other colleges offer to their students,” he said. 

Shaikh said he also likes the center’s new look, which is a departure from the old center’s brutalist architecture some considered less aesthetically pleasing and dated.

“It looks a lot more modern, which is nice,” he said. “The second floor of the Culp is nice, too. There’s a lot of nice, quiet places up there with some study rooms and office rooms.”

ETSU held a special set of events leading up to Thursday’s “Coming Home Celebration,” welcoming students and the campus community back to the new Culp Center. Events included live music, a blood drive and a campus talent show.

The center has gained an additional 20,000 square feet, lounge space, a media center, offices and new dining options like Steak ‘n Shake and Mein Bowl.

Thursday’s events began with the grand opening of the new ETSU Bookstore located in the Culp Center, which was partially opened for students last week ahead of finishing touches. 

Associate Dean of Students Leah Adinolfi said ETSU chose “coming home” as the theme for this week’s grand reopening activities since the center is considered the “living room of campus.”

“One of my favorite things to do was sit down here and watch students as they came in the building to look at the look on their faces. I think they were just in awe of this building, especially the students who were here before the Culp Center closed (for renovations) and knew what this building looked like before. It is a dramatic difference from what we had before,” she said. “I think students have been extremely excited about it.”

After the bookstore’s grand opening, an official opening for Roger’s Buc Mart — dedicated to longtime employee Roger Armstrong — was held, followed by the Chick-fil-A “first bite” opening celebration and then the final ribbon-cutting for the center.

Adinolfi said the interior of the building is about 80% complete and still needs some finishing touches to its exterior and lawn areas surrounding the building.

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