Neumann University Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Chris Haug’s vision of the Sora Luna Lounge had always been two-pronged. His primary goal was to create a space for students to gather, which was completed with the lounge opening in 2019. Now Haug, along with Dean of the School of Business Dr. Eric Wellington, are ready to enter phase two of this project which includes opening a student-run, late-night eatery.
According to Haug, Neumann University will be creating a “learning lab” in a co-curricular setting in the Sora Luna Lounge. Starting in the fall semester, a graduate assistant and four student interns will begin planning for the opening of the business. The eatery is slated to be fully functional in the spring 2022 semester.
The interns and graduate assistant will report to Wellington. Their job responsibilities will include setting up a budget, placing orders, hiring, payroll, and numerous other business-related tasks.
During the planning stages of Sora Luna, Haug and Wellington originally considered having Sodexo run the food portion of the lounge. However, the possibilities of student involvement became apparent and too important to dismiss. They began to think of the space from an entrepreneurial perspective.
The undergraduate internships created for the project are centered around marketing, accounting, operations, and other areas critical for the success of any business. The graduate assistant will have a managerial role in the planning, by supervising and leading the interns in the process.
When the lounge was opened in October 2019, a few student events were held, and the goal was to have a dedication and blessing of the space in the spring of 2020. However, as with so many events scheduled for 2020, COVID forced the cancelation of these planned gatherings.
Haug sees this fall as an opportunity to get back on track with the lounge and begin to build phase two. Grad assistant interviews are occurring now, and internship positions are being filled. Once assembled, the team will begin planning with the goal of hosting a few events later in the fall. Haug anticipates that by spring 2022 Sora Luna will be in full swing, operating in the after-dinner hours.
“Dr. Domes has been very clear that he wants more student workers on campus and more leadership positions for students. Sora Luna checks both of those boxes very clearly. It was really a no-brainer,” said Haug.
Haug did extensive research on student-run businesses on college campuses. In his former life as a high school business teacher, Haug was the student advisor for the school store. Based on his findings, he believes that what NU is offering through the Sora Luna Lounge is quite unique because of the partnership between student affairs and the school of business.
“I am very passionate about this and I’m grateful to have Dr. Wellington as a partner in this,” Haug said. “We are pretty excited about how all of these different pieces are coming together.”
The student team will have a tabula rasa of sorts when it comes to the types of food, drinks, and entertainment offerings that Sora Luna would provide for their classmates. The space is already set up with a kitchen, so the food offering decisions are endless.
“When we dreamed up Sora Luna, we got a lot of student input as to what the design of the space would look like. That was something that students had a lot of voice in. Eric and I joked that two bald guys shouldn’t be making all of the creative decisions on this,” Haug said. “We can create the structure for it to succeed but they’re going to breathe the life into this and that’s exciting.”