Universities offer a wealth of knowledge in the form of experts who can serve as keynotes, present research and contribute to roundtable discussions. But did you know many also offer prime meeting spaces? Some even operate as part of a hospitality program—so hosting an event on-campus doubles as support for the next generation of event professionals while leveraging the nostalgia of these storied venues. For your consideration:
University of California, Berkeley
This research university dates back to 1868, but Zellerbach Auditorium offers some of today’s most advanced audiovisual technology in a performance hall. Similarly, Pauley Ballroom boasts soaring, 30-foot ceilings, wraparound windows and outdoor balcony space for up to 1,000 attendees. Or, hold your event in an urban forest. UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley is home to Mather Redwood Grove Amphitheater, Julia Morgan Hall and a greenhouse conference center.
University of Central Florida, Orlando
Rosen College of Hospitality Management students cater to large and small gatherings. The Courtyard offers Mediterranean-style elegance—complete with burbling fountain—for up to 500. Darden Auditorium turns an event into a production, with computer-controlled, surround-sound music and light systems and seating for 400. You can even break out of the ordinary by renting Anheuser-Busch Beer & Wine Laboratory, where the on-site Beverage Education Team is available to inform and entertain.
University of Norte Dame, Indiana
The sprawling Notre Dame campus is home to no fewer than 30 event venues, including light-filled, 10,000-square-foot Dahnke Ballroom, 3,500-square-foot McKenna Hall (equipped for simultaneous translation in up to 14 languages), gothic-style South Dining Hall, and, of course, the historic 91,400-square-foot Notre Dame Stadium. For extra-creative credit, pencil in a Sport Lovers Experience to get your group out on the field for a game of flag football, kickball or yoga. You can even sign up for dinner on the 50-year line with your group’s name emblazoned on the videoboard.
University of Washington, Seattle
Crank up the cool by gathering at Washington Music Theater (WAMU to those in the know) at CenturyLink Field, where Jay-Z and Beyonce brought the BeyHive. Or let your ideas take off at Future of Flight Aviation Center, which offers a direct line of sight to Paine Field Snohomish County Airport and Boeing Flightline. Combine The Plaza to the Future, Strato Deck, Aviation Gallery and Flightline Room for groups as large as 1,000 people. Schedule a Boeing Tour for even more liftoff.
United States Military Academy at West Point, New York
Add a patriotic note to your keynote by hosting at the country’s premier officer training grounds, which overlook the Hudson River. Active duty and retired military personnel, civilian employees and their dependents can rent four facilities, including the historic Class of ’49 Lodge.
Read more about top hospitality schools in the U.S. in the September issue of Smart Meetings magazine.