Lauren Ceronie, Campus Editor

Miami University President David Hodge addresses the crowd at Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Armstrong Student Center, which is scheduled to open in 2013. (ROBERT WAUGH | The Miami Student)

Thursday afternoon was perfect for the Armstrong Student Center (ASC) groundbreaking ceremony. The sun shone brilliantly as representatives from student organizations on campus joined with administrators at Miami University and Mike and Anne Armstrong for the ceremony located at the Hub. The Armstrongs pledged $15 million to the center, which is projected to cost a total of $53.1 million.

The ceremony began with a procession of representatives from various student organizations. The representatives walked from the Tri Delta Sundial to the Hub, carrying ceremonial buckets of dirt that they poured into a box.

Miami President David Hodge joked about the procession during his speech.

“To be honest, I think we got this all wrong, aren’t we supposed to be taking dirt out of the hole instead of putting it in?” Hodge said.

During his speech, Hodge focused on what the ASC would help Miami become.

“The heart of this building is bringing together Miami students as individuals, study groups and perhaps most importantly, more than 400 student-led organizations that give a vibrancy to this campus,” Hodge said. “This center will be the center of the student experience, enhancing everything that happens here academically, providing for personal friendships and social activities, but most especially, building those intangibles that make our students and our graduates so special.”

Part of the reason the ASC can be built is the current student body’s contributions, according to Hodge. He congratulated students for their contributions to the center that many of them will not benefit from.

“This is about building a Miami that will be stronger and better for the next century and beyond,” Hodge said.

Mike Armstrong also spoke at the ceremony. Like Hodge, Armstrong commended students for their participation in the building.

“Every Miami student that was involved in this past and present should be very proud today,” Armstrong said. “The student government worked hard to keep the student center a university priority.”

Armstrong shared his vision of the ASC as a student destination spot as well as a place for learning.

“The student center is a learning place, it’s student-centric, faculty friendly, computer active, with government space, meeting rooms and lecture halls,” Armstrong said.

In an interview after the event, Armstrong said he enjoyed the ceremony and was looking forward to the completion of the ASC.

“I think this was a marvelous event. When I heard the groundbreaking was in October, I thought ‘lets see, it could snow, it could rain, it could freeze, it could storm or it could be a nice day, but that’s a one out of five,” Armstrong said. “It’s just been a beautiful day, it’s been a very nice ceremony and now we’re off to the races to build a marvelous student experience for many generations to come.”

During the interview, Armstrong pointed to the gutted buildings on the site of the ASC.

“It’s not that today is a start,” Armstrong said. “We’re underway, they’re at work and it’s going to be fabulous. The Armstrong student center is a place to turn dreams into reality and potential. Let’s build it and enjoy it for generations to come.”

Gratitude toward ASG and its efforts to build the ASC was a theme among all speakers. Student Body President Nick Huber brought his predecessors, including 2010-2011 Student Body President Heath Ingram, to the stage to thank them for their efforts.

Huber quoted two excerpts from The Miami Student to show Miami’s need for a student center.

“Now that Miami’s enrollment is the largest in its history, there is a glaring need for the very facilities provided in the proposed student center. Throughout the nation, universities and colleges, many smaller than Miami, are realizing the definite advantages to the university from a student center.”

The second excerpt said, “At present, the library is fast becoming the late night rendezvous with consequent deterioration of an atmosphere conducive to studying.”

Huber surprised the crowd when he announced that the two excerpts were taken from an issue of The Miami Student published in 1946.

“For the past decade, these same arguments and many others have been used in ASG meetings, on the front page of The Miami Student or on editorial pages and in open forums across the campus,” Huber said. “While the definition of what a student center is has evolved over the past six decades, the need and the desire from the student body has not changed.”

Representatives from student organizations who kicked off the ceremony said they were excited to be part of the event. Co-presidents of the Pre-Physicians Assistant Club Liz Stark and Mary Kate Graham were part of that group.

“This is a really exciting thing,” Graham said. “I’m so grateful they’re including us.”

“It’s a little disappointing we’re not going to be here for the building but it’s still cool to be part of this huge historical thing,” Stark said.

Residence Hall Association Campus Wide Programming Director Rose Kaplan agreed that being part of Miami history was an experience.

“The ASC is going to be really beneficial to student organizations,” Kaplan said. “It’s going to make a big impact on Miami.”