APU Opens Revamped Duke Student Commons

Azusa Pacific University recently celebrated the opening of the new John and Marilyn Duke Student Commons on West Campus. The completely redesigned 27,000-square-foot-space, which was formerly known as Heritage Court, enhances the campus experience for all students. “The Duke Commons is intentionally designed to facilitate student connection, engagement, and belonging,” said Keith Hall, EdD, vice president of student belonging and chief diversity officer. “The Commons is a perfect environment for graduate and undergraduate students to organically cultivate new relationships or deepen existing ones with peers, faculty, and staff."

As you enter through the main entrance off of Parking Lot H, the space is filled with a variety of booths for meeting and leisure pods conducive to studying. “Although APU has a number of places across East and West campuses where students can gather, connect, and socialize, the Duke Commons provides a centralized space for students to relate, recharge, and refresh before, in between, and after classes. It offers utility that can serve as a home away from home,” Hall said. Commuter student Eli Herrera, a sophomore psychology major with a music minor, enjoys the many amenities Duke Commons offers. “The seats are comfortable and there are so many that I never have to spend time searching for a place to sit,” Herrera said. “I like how nice and organized it is.”

The Commons also features stadium seating, with seven levels for students to gather under a Cougars banner. “We put a huge, drop-down screen facing the stadium seating, so professors can reserve the space if they’d like to show a film for class, clubs can have a movie night, and we’re planning on doing community events like World Series watch parties,” said Heather Snyder ’99, MBM ’09, director of auxiliary services.

The three eateries on West Campus have also been revamped. Hillside Grounds has a more open design that offers students a perfect spot to enjoy a freshly brewed cup of coffee. The Grill now features a broader menu including Mexican cuisine and a student favorite, loaded tater tots. The Market allows students to quickly grab a snack or beverage on their way to class. “With these dining venues, there’s something for everyone,” Snyder said. “Whether you’re in the mood for a sandwich, a burrito, or just a quick snack on the go, you can find it here.”

A popular change to the space is the addition of the Campus Store, which offers an extensive selection of APU gear, including t-shirts, polos, tank tops, sweaters, jackets, shorts, and hats. The store also stocks an impressive variety of APU accessories including mugs, water bottles, backpacks, stickers, ornaments, and more. Students can stock up on any necessary class materials from books to binders. Also located in the Commons, Cougar Tech features all the latest Apple products.

At the other end of the Duke Commons sits the Commuter Desk. This desk offers a one stop hub for commuter students to receive services including one free snack per day and access to a printer where they can print up to 10 pages for free each day. They can also store extra materials in lockers, keep their food in a refrigerator, and use microwaves to cook it between classes. “By nature, commuter students do not have the ability to run back to their residential areas, to rest or grab something, so we want to make their lives easier,” said Matt Browning, EdD, director of Commuter Life. “Commuter students are an integral part of the APU community. These students work especially hard to be here and balance work, family, and school. We’re proud to serve these extraordinary students.” APU has more than 1,200 commuter students enrolled for the 2022-23 academic year. Victoria Ramos ’22, a graduate social work student who commutes from Ontario, said the Duke Commons benefits commuters in ways Heritage didn’t. “This is a place where I enjoy spending time.”