In a few short days, the UCI Science Library will unveil major upgrades that will provide innovative student study spaces as well as access to essential services and resources. One of the most exciting changes that students can look forward to is the opening of the Student Excellence Center (SEC) located on the Science Library’s fifth floor. 

The SEC represents the collaboration between UCI LIbraries and the Office for the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (OVPTL). The idea behind the SEC is to unite important student programs and library services all in one easy-to-access location. With this goal in mind, the SEC is the new home for essential units like the  Campuswide Honors Collegium (CHC), the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), and the Scholarship Opportunities Program (SOP).

Michael Dennin, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning and Dean of Undergraduate Education, sees the SEC as an exciting addition to UCI’s campus:

“For me, the SEC represents UCI’s commitment to improving access to essential resources and to serving students in meaningful ways. It also offers a dedicated space for engagement and collaboration. Now, as we slowly return to in-person operations, I’m looking forward to the student connections and community-building that can only take place in spaces like the SEC.”

Campuswide Honors Collegium 

The CHC space in the SEC is a hub for Campuswide Honors students, offering academic advising and support, an honors community space, and a state-of-the-art setting for Campuswide Honors programs and activities. The CHC’s student lounge, The Locus, continues a CHC tradition of a community space for study, student meetings, programs, and informal gatherings with students and faculty. Students will also benefit from the SEC’s comfortable study space, its connectivity, and technology, as well as the close access it offers to the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program and the Scholarship Opportunities Program.

For Ted Wright, Associate Dean for Campuswide Honors, the move to the SEC is the latest step in the CHC’s evolution:

“The Campuswide Honors Collegium has been both growing and striving to better serve the needs of UCI’s diverse student body. With the SEC, students will benefit from better access to technology, classroom spaces, community spaces, and key campus partners. What could be a more apt location for a center focused on student excellence than the library, the hub of acquired knowledge on our campus?”

Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program

UROP staff at the SEC are available to assist with all aspects of the undergraduate research process for all academic disciplines—from helping students find suitable research or creative opportunities with a faculty mentor to drafting proposals to presenting results and writing scholarly papers for publication. Students can also visit the UROP space within the SEC for help with applying for funding and receiving recognition for their projects. The SEC will also host UROP workshops on how to get involved in research, write project proposals, present at the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, and other research related-opportunities.

Sharon Parks, Director of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, considers the move to the SEC to be symbolic of UROP’s new expansion:

“The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program has been reimagining how to expand our role in supporting the research culture of the campus and aims to serve as a hub for all undergraduate research and creative activities across campus. The move to the SEC will provide greater opportunities for collaborations with CHC and SOP, as well as more space to help our students gain mentorship and build community.” 

Scholarship Opportunities Program

The SOP helps high-achieving undergraduates successfully compete for the most prestigious scholarships, grants, and graduate fellowships available. Students can visit the SOP space in the SEC to access the latest information on scholarships and other opportunities, receive scholarship advising, and get help with writing CVs and application essays. SOP mock interviews, informational workshops, and social events will also be hosted in the SEC.

Speaking on behalf of the SOP, Director Rose Jones emphasizes how the SEC fosters collaboration between key undergraduate programs to facilitate more integrated student support:

“The SOP is excited to join CHC and UROP in UCI’s new Student Excellence Center. This shared space represents an integrated network of support where Anteaters can discover different pathways to success and strengthen their bonds of community and fellowship with researchers, colleagues, and mentors at UCI and around the world.”

Explore the SEC

Students interested in checking out the SEC and the other renovations to the Science Library are encouraged to take a tour. UCI Libraries will be hosting Science Library tours during Welcome Week 2021. Tours will be held every 30 minutes from 1:00-3:00 pm on Wednesday, September 22. 

To ensure the safety of visitors, UCI Libraries will also be offering self-guided tours of the Science Library. Self-guided tours allow visitors to explore the Science Library at their own pace. Informational videos and other resources will be accessible through QR codes located at key points of interest. To take a self-guided tour, meet outside the Science Library between 1:00-3:00 pm on Wednesday, September 22 to receive your map and directions. Students can learn more here.