New student academic center now open

SASC building pic 4 banner

Last-minute financial aid questions. Transferring college credits. Searching for cool internship and study abroad opportunities. A few months ago, you may have had to trek across campus to find the answer to all these questions, but now you only need to go to one place.

On Aug. 1, the Student Academic Success Center (SASC) opened its doors, becoming a four-story hub for new and returning students.

Located next to the Graham Center and near the Gold parking garage, SASC was created to facilitate the entire process of finding offices and adjusting to college life at FIU.

“It’s meant to enhance student success,” says John Cal, associate vice president of Facilities Administration. “To make it easier to gain access, to learn about FIU, to find the right course of study – and to graduate on time.

“It’s meant to be the first place prospective students go to and one of the last places they’ll visit.”

Offices and departments – many of which were previously located in Primera Casa and the Graham Center – now housed in SASC include:

OneStop (1st floor) – financial aid, registrar and admissions
Student Financial Services (1st floor)
Student Access and Success (2nd floor)
Study Abroad (2nd floor)
International Student and Scholar Services (2nd floor)
Career and Talent Development (3rd floor) – formerly Career Services
Connect4Success (4th floor)
Exploratory Advising Center (4th floor)
First-Year Programs (4th floor)
National Student Exchange (4th floor)
Transfer and Transition Services (4th floor)

Built to inspire

The impressive new building sports a futuristic, unique all-glass look that stands out from every other building on campus, yet feels right at home in Miami. A concrete exterior adds to the building’s personality – and guarantees durability.

A central spot on the first floor is the new Welcome Center, where students will find their OneStop shop – which includes Financial Aid, Registrar and Admissions. When visiting, check out  another OneStop upgrade – the convenient PantherQ system and myVisit app that now allow students to skip the long lines and register to receive text notifications when it’s time for them to head toward the counter for their appointment.

Also, on the first floor is a two-story lecture hall with a seating capacity of more than 700 – the largest on campus.

Connecting the Welcome Center and the lecture hall to the rest of the four-story building is an outdoor staircase that can be used as an amphitheater – and a promising hang-out spot for students.

“It’s a very inviting building,” says Mike Carlin, senior vice president of operations for Balfour Beatty Construction, the company that oversaw the construction of the building.

“With the plaza, there’s landscaping up there, which makes it visually appealing,” he explains. “There’s some benches there, and just to left of these stairs you’ll see some green space – synthetic turf. It’s just an area where students can sit outside and enjoy the warm air and the sun.”

In total, the building with a LEED Silver rating sports more than 90 windows, 129 total individual office spaces and 5 active learning classrooms.

For Steve Carpenter – project director for Goulds Evans, the architecture firm that designed the building –the glass windows and storefronts are central to the building’s distinctive look.

“From a design perspective, the thing that is most interesting about it is the window placement and the opening of the windows,” Carpenter says.

The window openings, which look like the fins or gills, were a strategic lighting choice.

“That’s been based on how a palm frond diffuses light in the natural environment,” Carpenter explains. “Basically we did a lot of sun shade studies to figure out the right proportions of the window treatments as it runs west and east of the building. We believe that the natural day lighting helps infuse life into space. The more light you can bring into the building, it’s just a better environment.”

He adds that the shade studies allowed them to balance natural light with temperature – limiting the South Florida heat and keeping temperatures cool.

Vice President of Enrollment Services Luisa Havens says the building helps FIU meet the needs of its students.

“It is going to be a commitment from the institution to provide 360-degree student-centric service,” Havens says. “There is no confusion who we are serving. From the mission to the people to the spaces, this is student-centric in a way that we’ve never operationalized before.”

She adds that keeping students at the center of higher education is crucial. “Meeting students where they are as people is central not only to the efficacy, but the effectiveness of student success strategies.”