OREM — Pool tables. Big-screen televisions. Overstuffed chairs. Pizza and burgers.

Boy, isn't life as a college student rough?

"I love this," said Kenley Grover, taking a break from his studies in the newly finished student center at Utah Valley State College.

"It's a welcoming place," said Grover, a junior from Orem. "The old student center just wasn't big enough."

Crews have finished work on a $13 million expansion and renovation of the Sorensen Student Center. The majority of the cost for the center has been paid with student fees.

Plans to expand the student gathering spot were made when UVSC experienced a growth spurt. More than 22,609 enrolled for at least one class this fall, a jump from 14,757 in fall of 1996.

The 47,000-square-foot addition houses several fast-food restaurants, a game room with pool tables and video games, a health center, computer labs, a large ballroom and a credit union.

Some 40,000 square feet of the old center also was remodeled, which included more dining areas, spacious conference rooms and an overhaul of the bookstore.

Also new and noteworthy: a 26-foot monolith and waterfall in a spacious commons area. At the touch of a small pedestal at the base, a bolt of electricity flashes across the black marble and plaudits regarding the value of education start to glow.

"I find it fascinating," said Grover. "It's eye-catching."

UVSC borrowed money two years ago to pay for the expansion, the fourth since the center was built in 1977. The student body paid for the center — and each remodel — by increasing fees.

"Our students have been very supportive over the years," said Val Petersen, an administrator who lobbied lawmakers for approval to seek construction funding.

Through fee hikes, UVSC students also paid for an activity center, now used as a gymnasium.

"Overall, (the student center) is going to be awesome," said Bob Rasmussen, assistant dean of students. "Our hope is that it will be a destination place for students."


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