The student center was built in 1951 when Midwestern University had an enrollment of 1,206. It was appropriately named the University Center. The new building housed the cafeteria, student lounges, a snack bar, a ballroom and administrative offices.
In 1961 the University named the center in memory of C. H. Clark, one of the city's outstanding educators who had served on the governing board for the institution between 1923-1940 while it was Wichita Falls Junior College. After his death in 1949, his wife and son, Eugene B. Clark Sr., continued to devote their time and funds for the university's benefit.
Clark Student Center was originally constructed in 1951 and was remodeled and enlarged in 1964 at a cost of $650,000. It provided 53,050 square feet of space for student recreation, food services, and offices. The cafeteria was one of the few facilities in the city capable of serving approximately 1,000 people.
In addition to housing separate cafeteria and snack bar, the building provided space for meeting rooms, university bookstore, game rooms, and barber shop. Offices for student government officers, student personnel, and placement service were also located in the structure.
Over the years, as the Midwestern family of students grew, the student center was expanded and modified to meet the changing needs of its students. In 1966, a bookstore was added as well as a faculty dining room, a game room, a card room and a new southwest entry. The snack bar was relocated as part of a major modification of the building in 1976. The dining room received a facelift and new kitchen equipment was installed as part of this renovation. In 1983, the game room was converted to a theater and the lounges were modified to include a TV lounge.
As enrollment expanded, so did the need for more space in the student center. In 1985, the addition of an atrium lounge, meeting rooms and a bookstore warehouse added 21,000 square feet to the building, nearly doubling the available space. The ballroom was renovated in 1987 and the dining room and snack bar in 1989. The student center was comfortable and highly used, but the piecemeal modifications over the years were evident in the haphazard layout of the building.
Students began to talk about inadequate space in some areas and the need to update and unify the student center. Surveys showed that a larger game room was needed as well as more lounge space. Students wanted a food court, a computer lab, a convenience store and a place for student organizations to work. The kitchen was in need of new equipment, and new heating, cooling and sound systems were needed. In a student referendum held in December, 1993, a space allocation plan prepared by Bundy, Young, Sims and Potter, Architects, for a $5.4 million renovation was approved. The students voted to pay for it by assessing a $20 per semester student union fee. The design concept and renovation budget were approved by the MSU Board of Regents in the spring of 1996.
Poteet, Inc. began construction in April 1997 and completed the project in December. The "new" student center is now 7,300 square feet larger than the old. The entire building was redesigned and renovated to include a large game room, a computer lab, student organization offices and work space, a food court, a new dining room, new restrooms, a larger post office, a bookstore, an information desk, several lounges, a theater, meeting rooms, a multi-cultural resource room and administrative offices. Today's student center bears little resemblance to the 1951 building. It is truly a new building with many things to offer our students, faculty, staff and guests.
The mission of the Clark Student Center is to promote learning by providing programs that broaden the learning experiences and enhance the quality of life of the Midwestern State University community. The Clark Student Center is not just a lounge, a recreation area, a leadership laboratory, a conference center, a classroom, and a place to dine or shop. It is, indeed, the community center of the campus.