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Declining enrollment drives closure of Presentation Skills Center

The Presentation Skills Center closed this semester due to declining enrollment.  

At the center, students could meet with speech consultants to prepare speeches and work on writing. The center was funded through the Communication Department in the College of the Arts and Media. 

The physical location, on the third floor of the Park Library, was closed throughout the spring semester due to initial COVID-19 outbreaks. Throughout the pandemic, the center operated online via WebEx and Skype, according to the department's webpage. The center didn't reopen in-person or online in the fall.

Former director, Danny McQuarters Jr. said the majority of students that served at the center were introductory level communication students in classes such as COM101 which is required through the university. 

“I know the communication department fought really hard for it to stick around, but unfortunately, there just wasn't enough money,” McQuarters said.

Heather Smith, Executive Director of Communications, said the former College of the Arts and Media dean cut funding at the end of last school year. The college and Communications Department are currently searching for sustainable funding to reopen it for students in the near future. 

"As a student-centered university, decisions are made that will limit impact on our students," Smith said. "Any budget reductions we make will not affect students' educational experience -- students will continue to have what they need academically."

McQuarters said he estimates that about 1,000 students who previously used the center will be seeking help due to the closure. 

Saginaw senior Johnnie Johnson was an applicant to the MLK Oratorical Contest, a contest organized by the Multicultural Academic Student Services. To help prepare, he went to the Presentation Skills Center. He ended up placing second and was chosen to give his speech at this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Day event.

Johnson said communication skills are important, especially right now while people are not communicating virtually and social distancing. 

“I don’t feel like we promote these resources enough to begin with,” Johnson said. “Everyone should’ve known about the Presentation Skills Center ... and now we’re not having it in general.

“That just cuts off more students; you never know when you’re going to need it.”