Published February 23, 2018
Here’s a trick question for the well-traveled and procedure-weary student: What new, highly used UB office location do these words describe?
Organized. Efficient. Helpful. Fast.
A growing group of students, faculty and staff know the answer: It’s 1Capen, UB’s innovative “one-stop shop” for student services located on the ground floor of Capen Hall near the Capen Café.
The trick part of that question is that “organized” and “efficient” might not be the way college students would normally describe their interactions with essential student services like parking permits or financial aid.
1Capen is changing all that.
“1Capen is where I can take care of anything,” says Emily Isenhart, a junior majoring in biomedical sciences. “Even if they can’t resolve my problem here, they can tell me where to go. But before we had this, it meant going all the way to Ellicott to get a parking pass, or trying to go to South Campus to resolve some problem,” Isenhart says.
“Now, I can come here about my loans. I can ask them, ‘What do I do about my loans? I got a scary email and I need help.’ And they’ll fix it right away.”
And Isenhart is not alone. It’s easy to find others who share her enthusiasm for what now is an integrated space for student services in one centralized location.
“1Capen is someplace you can really come to, and everything’s at your fingertips,” says Christian Rossman, a junior psychology and public health major, who described 1Capen as a “one-stop shop.” “You can go to Parking and Transportation if you need it. Student Accounts, Financial Aid, everything’s just here for you, so you don’t have to travel around campus to the different offices.
“Honestly, it makes sense to have this resource in Capen Hall because this is one of the central hubs where all the students are,” Rossman says. “A lot of people use Silverman Library … Many students come here to study, eat, anything like that, so for traffic purposes, it just makes sense.”
These positive student reviews please the UB administrators and staff who conceived and now carry out UB’s vision of what the student experience should be. And no one is more pleased than A. Scott Weber, vice president for student life, who was involved with 1Capen — as some would say — from the ground up.
The mission of 1Capen was to bring all student-facing services — including Parking and Transportation, Financial Aid and the UB Card Office — to one location, Weber says. The overarching goal for 1Capen was for UB students to get their questions answered at one location and not get bounced around campus, and the university is delivering on that promise.
“It’s amazing,” he says. “We had over 55,000 students come to the facility since it opened last August. We see about 450 students a day. I walk by every day to say hi and check out how it’s going.
“And our students love it,” he says. “I’ve talked to so many students who appreciate the convenience and efficiency, especially if they have been here for a couple years.”
The top three services: UB Cards, Financial Aid and Parking and Transportation.
Location, location, location. Capen is the most heavily trafficked building on campus, says Weber, so consolidating student services there made perfect sense.
“Capen is the center of our campus, which is why we call it the heart of the campus,” Weber says. “It’s the ideal location for this kind of facility.”
The best way to appreciate 1Capen is to visit. There is a circular concierge desk — based on the concept of a hotel concierge — where friendly staff greet walk-ins. The area is spacious and well-lit, with glass walls separating the offices from the bustling hallways outside. There are cheery UB scenes on large computer monitors. It is clean and organized, efficient and fast, words students themselves used to describe the facility during an administrative survey.
Students waiting in line can see their status on large-numbered queue monitors. There are numerous touches of personality and light-heartedness, such as the brightly colored lanyards to hold UB ID cards hanging from counter stands and flowers at the concierge desk.
There is an unmistakable relaxed, no-problem vibe.
1Capen is the second phase of the Heart of the Campus (HOTC) project, the UB 2020 initiative to enhance the student learning experience by creating “learning landscapes” in the center of the academic spine.
The first phase of HOTC was the renovation of the third floor of the Oscar A. Silverman Library in Capen into a 21st-century library to accommodate the different ways students study and learn. The third floor now includes rooms for individual and group study; a traditional grand reading room; high-tech classrooms; suites for producing, editing and viewing multimedia; and a café.
Adjacent to the 1Capen space is the new Buffalo Room.
The Buffalo Room is now a site for significant campus events — anything from a visit by the governor or a distinguished speaker to a reception or a UB Council or Dean’s Advisory Council meeting. The room can be configured in multiple layouts, with AV and teleconferencing abilities, to accommodate a variety of events, including seating for an audience of 120-140.
Every project in HOTC “is about an improved service level and academic experience for our students and campus,” says Weber.
The satisfaction expressed by students is music to his ears.
“What students expect at a university is for their needs to be met in a pretty seamless way,” he says. “They don’t really care where that service is provided or whose office it is. So what we’ve done is we’ve tried to remove all those boundaries for our students. They walk in the door and our goal is to make sure all their needs are met, to the extent we can.
“1Capen is a model for transforming the student service-delivery model at UB.” Weber says. “And now we are applying this model as we think about the future. Whether it’s our thinking on the new wellness center, where we’re bringing recreation, health, wellness education and counseling together in one place. Or how we might bring academic advising and career services together.”
1Capen, he says, “is going to be a new national model on how we serve students across the campus.”