Student Recreation Center open for business

July 13, 2009

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Indiana State University celebrated student advocacy and engagement with the opening of its new Student Recreation Center.

The ribbon-cutting and dedication on July 10 capped a six-year collaborative effort between the university and student leaders.

"It's been a long time coming," said Michael Scott Jr., president of the Student Government Association (SGA), and one of many student leaders who watched the project evolve.

"The fact that we were able to have an impact on something of this magnitude shows how important student government is," Scott said. "We are greatly appreciative to those students who came before us."

The efforts paid off in a big way - the 109,450 square foot facility houses a three-court gym that can host volleyball, basketball and badminton, a juice bar and lounge area, locker facilities and equipment rooms, a massage therapy room, and administrative offices.

The aquatics area, with large windows to allow sunlight to flood through, features an 112,067-gallon pool and a 22-person spa with Jacuzzi jets. A "wet" classroom supports aquatic programs such as lifeguard training and water safety classes while the multi-activity court will allow indoor soccer and floor hockey and can be set up to host dances and other social functions.

The second level features 10,500 square feet for fitness activities, including cycling rooms, elevated jogging/running track, multi-purpose activity rooms for aerobics, martial arts and cardio equipment with iPod integration and USB flash drives for transferring personal fitness data.

"This building is an improvement on the quality of life for students," Doug Huntsinger, a former student trustee, said. "It's unbelievable how a few people's dreams turn into a reality," he added.

The Center is a dream come true for students who have been involved in the project since day one.

Former SGA presidents Megan McManana, Hobart Scales and A.J. Patton along with current president Michael Scott and three former student trustees -- Huntsinger, Jessica Robertson and Grant Scharton championed the project from the planning stages to reality.

In April 2005, the SGA conducted a campus-wide referendum that demonstrated by a two to one margin students' willingness to pay a mandatory fee to support the construction of a facility dedicated to student recreational use. SGA worked with the university throughout the design phase and developed policies for the building.

"More than anything we wanted a building that kept students on campus, that engaged them in campus, got them involved and got them active," Scales said. "I think having that broad support from the get go, having it really led by students, having it by student government and the student body organizations all the way through made the difference."

For Patton, a two-term SGA president, walking through the facility was a rewarding experience.

"This is a culmination of efforts of so many different people, so many different administrators and students...this is just a really powerful event," Patton said, walking thorough the fitness area. "Cutting the ribbon on this is one of the most important things and one of the coolest things I've ever done."

There were challenges along the way, Patton said, but people were ready to lend support.

"This had to get passed through the legislature and we couldn't have gotten it through without (former Special Assistant to the President for External Affairs) Greg Goode and Clyde Kersey," Patton said.

Kersey, who has served 13 years in the legislature, realized the potential of this project.

"When you start with an idea that came from students and you see the plans and you walk through this beautiful building...This is a great story. I've been involved in a lot of projects in my 13 years and this is a special project," Kersey said.

The Student Rec Center fulfills more than just a need for recreation space. It is also a key player in student recruitment and retention.

"This facility and its related programs will bring new focus and energy to campus life, promote healthy collegiate lifestyles, encourage a lifelong commitment to wellness, introduce new forms of recreation, more fully engage students in the life of the university and enhance the sense of community on campus," said Tom Ramey, vice president for student affairs.

John Lentz, director of Recreational Sports, emphasized the Rec Center's commitment to serving its primary customers.

"Our pledge to the students is to offer quality programs and services that this great building allows."

In addition to students, Indiana State faculty and staff are able to use the facility as part of the university's wellness program.

"Please take advantage to interact with students in this out of class atmosphere," Lentz said.

Don Mighell, who served as associate director of student life programs from 1965-2000, was excited for the center to open because of the impact it will have on students.

"This will keep students on campus," he said. "It's a wonderful place to make friends in a very healthy atmosphere."

Mighell, who always wanted to keep students on campus during the weekends, was the first donor to the facility. One he learned about the Rec Center and the opportunities it provided to students, he was sold.

"It didn't take any convincing for me to jump on board," Mighell said.

The building will serve as an inspiration to future students, according to Indiana State president Daniel J. Bradley.

"It was the efforts of these students, building coalitions and support, which not only made this building possible, but established a model which will serve generations of students well into the future," Bradley said.

The facility is a living legacy for all students.

"The building represents what students can do when they put their mind to something, when they take ownership of their institution," Hunsinger concluded.

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Contact: John Lentz, director of Recreational Sports, (812) 237-4100

Writer: Paula Meyer, ISU Communications & Marketing, (812) 237-3783 or pmeyer4@isugw.indstate.edu