Information desk inside UT Tower closes

Jillian Bliss

The information desk on the entry level of the Tower shut its lights off for the last time Thursday, as the kiosk will no longer guide campus visitors.

Charles Roeckle, deputy to the president, said University administrators have discussed closing the station for several years in order to reduce spending in the Office of Admissions. The desk, staffed by the Office of Admissions, provided materials and information to UT visitors for at least 11 years, Roeckle said. Staff will no longer sit at the kiosk, but it will continue to provide pamphlets, brochures and maps to information seekers for the rest of the 2011-2012 academic year.

“Closing the information center is a step to making wayfinding a little bit better,” Roeckle said. “It’s a change, but in the end I think we’re going to come up with something better.”

Roeckle said discussion occurred regarding creation of a new station, but recent budget cuts have delayed all plans. Administration has also considered alternatives to an information desk, such as touch-screen monitors that provide common University information. A sign at the kiosk will direct visitors to the Office of Admissions reception desk until plans are implemented.

Senior admissions counselor Lisa Lockhart has monitored student workers at the information desk since 1995 and said she believes her office will be able to answer all questions visitors may have. Lockhart said she also feels it is time for the information desk to be removed, because it does not match surrounding architecture.

“It was an architectural nightmare,” Lockhart said. “That lobby area could be so pretty.”

Lockhart and others in the Office of Admissions commemorated the closing of the station Thursday by wrapping it in streamers.

UT alumna and information desk worker Jenna Warner said she was sad to see it go, but she tried to have fun on the day of her last shift at the desk. Warner said she often reflects on the entertaining experiences from her shifts, such as receiving wrong-number phone calls and chatting with people about their day.

“I’m going to miss working here,” Warner said. “I love talking to people. I’ve met all types of people and gotten all types of questions. I’ve made friends here.”