Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement

Mary Baldwin University

Staunton, Virginia


The Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement was in need of home that would give the newly created program a prominent visual presence on campus. The Center provides a resource to engage and challenge students to seek out service opportunities locally, nationally, and globally. The program also focuses on bringing students from diverse backgrounds into the Mary Baldwin community.


Strategically positioned at the center of campus along the primary campus pedestrian spine, the Center is named in honor of former president, Sam Spencer.  This student-focused facility occupies a storefront that was the former campus computer center. It leverages its location at a major crossroad of pathways used daily by students.  In response to this core campus location, the center is visually open to those passing by, revealing its intent on student engagement to all.  This transparent connection is the first glimpse of what the student will find insideOnce inside the student is provided guidance from staff that regularly rotate through the Center.  Whether their interests are to look for community-based opportunities, international studies, or internships throughout the world, their search begins here.


While small in footprint, it was designed to embody and inspire a spirit of civic engagement. The design of the center radiates from a central display and gathering space that provides for a variety of exhibits, events, seminars and student gatherings. This central space is supplemented by small meeting and study spaces as well as office space for Spencer Center staff. The GBR design response not only presents a welcoming and transparent interface with the campus, it also displays an international character. The central space features flags from different countries and an entrance which says “welcome” in multiple languages. Information is made available to the student, both printed materials and video displays, a changing exhibit area allows staff to focus on programming opportunities.