Two million and counting

Author: Carol C. Bradley

EckCenteris a kind of ‘campus living room

Freshman Jim Zenker was showing some out-of-town family around campus on the Saturday of the Notre Dame/Syracuse game when they stopped by the Eck VisitorsCenter. He received a surprising warm welcome when he was greeted as the centers two-millionth visitor.

On hand to shake his hand were a contingent of University Relations representatives and Frank Eck, benefactor of theEckCenterand graduate of the class of 1944. Zenker left with a basket of Notre Dame-themed gifts. He also left with a job as a student tour guide, having impressed Jaime Cripe, the centers assistant director, with his personable nature.

When the building was opened in 1999, Cripe notes, no one expected so many visitors so quickly.The one-millionth caught us by surprise,she says.

The center, which also houses the offices of the Alumni Association, is one of the first University buildings that visitors reach as they enter campus onNotre Dame Ave.Its information kiosks and display cases are chock full of history and artifacts, and a video presentation provides further background. Students lead tours year-round.

University receptions and dinners are common functions herean unanticipated benefit. Public events such as meetings and wedding rehearsal dinners also have been scheduled. (Information about rentals is available on the Alumni Association Web page at )

The field of campus visitorsservices is young, Cripe notes. Most campuses provide visitor information, she says, butNotre Dame was one of the first to recognize that we needed to provide resources for people who visit campus.

We have not been able to find another university with a facility even remotely like this,she says.Most places have some sort of information desk. But were the standard for the rest of them.

The visitorscenter is designed to be a welcoming place, as this is the first stop for many on campus.People come by, meet their friends, sit and chat. I like to think of it as the campus living room,Cripe explains.

The most common questions, staffers agree, areWheres the bathroom?andWheres the bookstore?

The restrooms are certainly one of the buildings popular features. Housekeeper Suzanne Brzezinski points out that the automatic flushers in the restrooms wore out and had to be replaced after the first million visitors. With the two million mark now passed, she is keeping a watchful eye on the plumbing.

Brzezinski, who worked previously in Lyons Hall, was the first employee hired when the building opened in 1999.I like to keep it really nice,Brzezinski says.Theres no place thats more beautiful on campus, thats accessible to the public like this place. Weve seen everything from the child from the Make a Wish Foundation to President Bushs best friend.

But its the average person Brzezinski thinks of when she does her work every day.Thats why I polished the brass this morning. Im happy to work in this place.

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