The new Arnold J. Damen, S.J., Student Center is formally opening its doors on April 3, at 9 a.m., and a number of activities are planned throughout the day to introduce the Loyola community to the new facility.

Bryan Goodwin, director of the Department of Student Centers, says the goal of the Damen Student Center is for it to truly be a facility for students.

“We’re looking for it to be a home for all students and we feel like we will accomplish that through a number of new spaces, including prayer spaces, meeting rooms, and first-class dining,” Goodwin says. “The goal is to celebrate the opening of what will be an awesome student facility that features a lot of amenities that students are looking for to strengthen their student experience.”

The grand opening will kick off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony accompanied by short speeches from Father Garanzini, Robert Kelly, PhD, vice president for student development, and USGA President Julia Poirer. An innovative angle to the opening ceremony will be the involvement of Loyola’s international campuses, which will experience the opening via Skype and/or Face Time. “iPad Operators” will be available to take the international campuses on a rolling tour of the new facility after the doors open.

Another important feature of the grand opening is the ReImagine 3 Short Film Contest. Students must submit their one-minute films to igNation by midnight on March 24 and meet the contest criteria, which focuses on answering the question, “Why Loyola?,” with their film. The chosen films will be shown at the new student center on April 3. All students will have an opportunity to vote on the short films throughout the opening day celebration. In addition to the student body vote, a panel of judges, consisting of a faculty member, a Loyola alum, and a member of the University marketing team will determine the winners of the contest. The grand-prize winner will receive a $400 Adobe gift card. The top five winning films will be shown before each movie playing in the building’s new cinema over the course of the next school year.

While the film contest will be ongoing during the grand opening, there are a number of other events to celebrate the student center planned.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., students will be able to “Explore Damen” by participating in the Damen Game. Each student will get to “self tour” the facility. As they stop at different locations in Damen Center, students will collect 10 stamps they can add to their game card, which they can turn in for a prize by 4 p.m. at the center’s information desk. Prizes include a Southwest gift card, a plasma television, Loyola sweatshirts, iTunes gift cards, and more. Winners will be announced at 6 p.m. in the Damen Student Center Atrium. Everyone who turns in their game card will receive a commemorative t-shirt.

Other activities during the day include student-artist performances in the Atrium, free lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Damen Food Court, giveaways and a gaming tournament in the Ireland’s sports lounge, and demonstrations on the new climbing wall.

The activities on opening day of the Damen Student Center aren’t solely for students. Faculty and staff can treat themselves to a “Wine Down” reception in the new Solomon Cordwell Buenz Fireplace Lounge on the second floor, from 4 to 6 p.m. Hosted by the Maroon and Gold Society, faculty and staff can relax and also enjoy guided tours during this time frame. Alcohol will be restricted to the lounge.

Finally, the opening will come to an end with the Senior HOP Party that will take place in the Schmidt Multipurpose Room/SCB Fireplace Lounge from 9 to 11 p.m. This party is hosted by the Office of the President. This event is for seniors only and tickets are required. Seniors will be able to purchase these tickets soon via an online invitation.

We hope you’ll plan to attend the opening day festivities and participate in the activities. To stay up to date on plans for the grand opening, keep an eye on Inside Loyola and follow the Damen Student Center on Twitter at @LUC_Damen.