Bentley Unveils Newly Renovated Multicultural Center Lounge
The Multicultural Center (MCC) lounge has been a popular space for students of color to connect with each other and recharge since it opened nearly three decades ago. Now, a newly renovated and expanded lounge designed in collaboration with students will provide more space and resources to do just that.
“The Multicultural Center is so many things: a lounge, meeting room, study area, social hub and safe space for many students of color and diverse backgrounds,” says Ashleigh Tain ’24. “The physicality of the previous lounge didn’t support the integrity of what this space represents, so it needed to change.”
As students returned to campus for spring semester and saw the renovated space for the first time, the energy was high — with smiles, hugs and laughter marking the pride of students who saw their ideas come to life. The lounge expanded from roughly 250 to 750 square feet and includes a media and technology room (which will house a student-run podcast) and a seating area with a fireplace. Part of the project includes Art Expanse, a student art exhibit space.
On Feb. 1, the broader Bentley community gathered for the formal opening of the lounge for a memorable event that included poignant stories from students and staff members who advocated for the space and talked about its impact.
“The MCC has always been a space where I could be myself, meet other people who look like me, people I can identify with,” Nyleah Febles ’24 said. “This space has allowed me to grow academically, career-wise, even socially … It has been a space where I have been able to be heard, be seen and be here.”
According to Katie Lampley, vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer, the MCC Lounge renovation was based on feedback from Bentley’s Racial Justice Task Force that assessed the physical campus through a racial lens and identified a lack of safe spaces for community members of color. The Task Force findings were then championed by a group of student leaders who, under Lampley’s guidance and with funding from Bentley and support from alumni donors, began the process of designing and planning the process for renovation.
“The students who predominantly use this space have been involved throughout the ideation and design of the space,” Lampley says of the project.
Jayden Cooper ’23 was among those students. “I’m thankful to the MCC staff and past Bentley students that came before me who encouraged students such as myself to be vocal about changes that needed to take place at Bentley. Katie made sure my voice and many other students’ ideas were reflected in the new renovations.”
Students also worked with the architectural firm, Baker Design Group, and the construction firm, Walker Development & Construction Management Inc. — whose president and principal is Bentley alumnus Nick Poirier ’05. The Bentley Facilities Management team, led by Project Manager Dyna Ly, was an integral part of managing the project.
“As a member of the BIPOC community, this project truly holds a special place in my heart,” Ly says. “There was engagement at all levels; departments, staff, and especially the students who paved the way to a successful project. It was the true meaning of collaboration, an answer to a call beyond functionality; to create a space which is both meaningful and interpersonal. The significance of this newly renovated space exemplifies the continuing effort to create safe and inclusive spaces."
The MCC lounge is named in honor of Claudette Blot — a beloved advocate and mentor for Bentley students, in particular students of color — thanks to a generous donation from trustee Robert E. Alan ’91. A formal dedication of the space, the first on campus named for a person of color, took place in March.
“Having the lounge named for me not only acknowledges the work I’ve done for students of color for the last 30 years; it also means that my students are acknowledged: that they’re here, they’re present and they’re doing great things,” Blot says. “It’s important for them to know that if something needs to change, they have advocates here.”
MCC Director Michael McCorvey agrees. “It’s important for our students to recognize that they should be asking for the best, not for the bare minimum — a recognition that in order to dream big, you have to ask big to get what you need to be successful.”
Tain sees that firsthand. “The largest benefit of the MCC lounge renovation is knowing that when we speak up, we are heard. This remodel itself represents the importance of student advocacy. Between all the teams that were involved with this remodel, so many decisions were made with the student in mind. This is truly a space created by students for students.”