Water damage leads to major renovations at University Club

the College Room in University Club


Among the challenges Jackie Gillespie took on as Pitt’s first assistant vice chancellor of hospitality in fall 2021 was reimagining some aspects of the University Club.

That task took on greater urgency when the lobby-level restaurant and bar known as the College Room suffered water damage earlier this year. The resulting renovations are likely among the more noticeable changes in dining facilities across campus this fall.

“We took the opportunity to do renovations in that space,” Gillespie explained. “It recently reopened, and we couldn’t be more pleased with how that space turned out. We’ve also upgraded and updated some furnishings and decor and are also completing technology upgrades throughout the building.”

These and other changes are part of Gillespie and the hospitality team’s recent work to join four University hospitality-oriented divisions — Conference Services, Heinz Memorial Chapel, Special Events and the University Club — into a single, streamlined operation. Gillespie said the team entered the fall 2022 semester prepared to serve a demand that’s so far returned to, if not surpassed, pre-pandemic levels.

While Gillespie said previous discussion of building a hotel in the University Club parking lot is on hold for now, the relocation of Family House, which occupied the club’s top four floors with 43 guest rooms, in April to a centralized location at 5308 Liberty Ave. opens up a new opportunity.

“We are evaluating options to utilize this space for upper-class student housing,” she said.

The hospitality team also took time to review University Club’s membership options.

“People may have a perception that the University Club atmosphere could be stuffy or formal, but that’s not the case at all,” Gillespie said. “We are reinventing what it means to be a member with new and exciting member programming that will interest staff and faculty across areas and interests.”

Gillespie said the club welcomes “all current faculty or staff members at Pitt, emeritus professors, and graduated Pitt alumni.” Memberships also are now available to UPMC-affiliated faculty and staff. Two membership tiers are offered:

• Lifestyle Membership, $20 per month

• Wellness 360 membership, $50 per month.

Members also may enroll a member of their immediate family as a Lifestyle member at a discounted rate, regardless of their University affiliation.

Here is a rundown of what the individual membership tiers offer:

Lifestyle Membership

  • Access to member lounges and restaurants, including The Library, College Room, Fraternity Grill and Rooftop Terrace

  • Accompanied guest admittance (up to 20 guests daily) in member lounges and restaurants

  • One celebratory cocktail or mocktail during your birthday month

  • Two complimentary tickets to the annual Member Holiday Party

  • One complimentary ticket to the annual Member Appreciation Day

  • Quarterly prize raffles

  • Reciprocal club access at select domestic universities and private clubs in North America and abroad

  • Family add-on memberships available ($10 per month)

  • Access to on-site car washing/auto detailing services (additional fees apply)

  • Access to dry cleaning/laundry services (additional fees apply)

Wellness 360 Membership includes all Lifestyle Membership perks, plus:

  • Personalized fitness and lifestyle plans created by the University Club Fitness Center staff and Pitt graduate student assistants with degrees in exercise science and training in health, fitness, and wellness

  • Complimentary group fitness classes

  • Exclusive access to the club’s advanced Precore Fitness Center

  • Private men's and women's locker rooms, including courtesy day-use lockers, private showers, and towel service

  • Personal long-term lockers are available for rent for an additional fee

Gillespie said the reorganized and re-energized team is moving full steam ahead to accommodate campus dining and hospitality needs with both innovative facilities and approaches.

“Our dining partners at Chartwells are doing truly amazing things with our food and beverage offerings,” she said. “Everyone involved is fully committed to making the University Club the true ‘heart of hospitality’ for our campus community and a premier event venue for clients.”

Click here for more information and to contact the University Club team.

Shannon O. Wells is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at shannonw@pitt.edu.

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