By Denton Josey, Features Editor
Gibson gymnasium could undergo renovations as soon as 2008.
As a part of the 21st Century vision, Gibson would transform into the Student Recreation and Fitness Center (SRFC), pending sufficient funding.
A committee of students, faculty, staff and administrators is working with Tipton and Associates on the center’s conceptual architectural design. Additionally, the committee consulted student focus groups, residence assistants and the Students’ Association to gain feedback on the project.
Dr. Nikki Rippee, chair of the project, said the committee formed in May. In addition to the student feedback, the committee researched fitness centers at other universities around the country.
“It’s going to be a facility where students can improve their health and wellness, so it improves quality of life for our students, faculty and staff,” Rippee said.
The construction plan includes renovating existing parts of Gibson and adding several thousand square feet. The total footage would range from 85,000 to 100,000 square feet upon
the project’s completion. Once construction begins, the estimated completion time is 18 months.
Several options are under consideration for inclusion in the SRFC. The potential options include improved weight rooms, additional basketball courts, racquetball courts, multipurpose areas for indoor intramurals and open gym times, a community lounge with TV space, new locker rooms, a smoothie bar, an aerobics room and a pool with an outside area for sand volleyball and outdoor basketball.
The fitness center would create a variety of jobs for students. Rippee said the Department of Exercise Science and Health would eventually like to see students from the department available to the student body as personal trainers and nutritionists.
The project still needs funding and approval from the Board of Trustees, but if the necessary components fall into place, the work would begin during the 2008-2009 academic year.
Dr. Jean-Noel Thompson, vice president and dean for student life, said in an e-mail that the people involved in the project’s planning are excited about the project and feel that it will enhance the quality of student life on campus.
“We’re hoping it draws students into the center of campus and become a gathering place for students to meet each other,” Rippee said. “I just hope that the students are excited about the possibilities and see this as a very positive thing for them.”