Smith Alumni Center review: ‘It feels like home.’

Old Main Bell

More than 1,000 CSU alumni, family and friends got their first look at the much-anticipated Iris & Michael Smith Alumni Center on Friday night and came away impressed during the open house.

“I love this place,” said Jamie Bennett, who played football at CSU and now is a dentist in the Cleveland area. “I’m so glad we made the trip to see this. This place feels like home.”

The 20,000 square-foot facility is attached to the northeast corner of the new stadium. It’s not yet complete – the grand opening comes during Homecoming week in mid-October – but there was more than enough completed work to dazzle alumni who have been waiting decades for a place to call their own.

‘A welcoming place’

“We wanted to create a welcoming place for our alumni and it was gratifying to hear so many positive comments from people,” said Kristi Bohlender, executive director of the Alumni Association. “It really was a wonderful event, and I couldn’t be more pleased that our alumni seemed to love their new home.”

Several hundred attendees enjoyed conversations in the events hall while bands Last Call Romance and Gasoline Lollipops played. Others checked out interactive video screens and the unique Ann Gill Storytelling Booth, where they could record their CSU story.

The Smith Alumni Center has been in the planning stages for months, with Bohlender and members of her staff visiting numerous university alumni centers in order to create a special CSU feel. If Friday’s gathering was any indication, the alumni center hit the mark – and then some.