Survey sparks next phase in rec center

T.J. Gerlach

With the survey complete, the next phase in building the proposed campus recreation center is underway.

Darren Fullerton, director of campus recreation and wellness, said 563 students filled out the online survey a few weeks ago.

Fullerton said the goal was to have 400 students take the survey.

Fullerton said about 65 percent of respondents were female.

“That was kind of surprising,” he said.

Fullerton said the complete results came in late in April, and he has e-mailed them to the administration.

“We haven’t met with the administration yet,” Fullerton said.

He said the architects will be back on campus sometime in May to review the sites recommended by the survey.

The most popular site, according to the survey, was the northeast corner of the intersection of Newman and Duquesne Roads.

The second site was a tie between a location near the Student Life Center and behind another location between Spiva Library and Billingsly Student Center.

Fullerton said some of the sites might not be feasible because of problems with utilities, possible sinkholes and some other details.

The survey had three options for the facility: an upscale version, a scaled-down version or no new facility at all. Fullerton said 43 percent of the respondents approved the first option, 37 percent approved the second and 20 percent approved the third.

Fullerton said more students were in favor of the project than when Student Senate ran a survey in the past.

“[The results] were fairly closely matched,” he said.

He believes the higher student support is the result of better publicity and coverage of the project in The Chart and informing the students better. When the facility is built, the University’s current health center will be moved into the new building. It was not included as part of the survey

because the creators of the survey felt that would have made it too long.

“The health center is definitely part of the process,” Fullerton said.

Once the architects return in May, they will begin designing the building.

“Our goal is to, by the end of May, to have the conceptual drawing made,” Fullerton said. “There’s a lot of good information [in the survey results] the architects will use to construct a model.”

He said the design will incorporate what facilities students said they would most use and at what time of day they will use the facilities.

Fullerton said funding for the project is “kind of at a stand-still.”

“Money is tight across the board,” he said.

Curt Betebenner, director of the Missouri Southern Foundation, said there is a $300,000 pledge and a grant proposal now, and the Foundation is working with a donor who it hopes will make a large contribution.

Betebenner said the Foundation will raise as much as it can to help keep student fees for the project down.

“We would like to have contributions to supplement [the rec center],” he said.

Fullerton said the ideal situation would be to have the project paid for through donations. He said the project should cost between $12 million and $15 million. He said after the drawing is complete, contributions should be easier to come by.

“You need something to show people,” Betebenner said. “They need to see what it is they are being asked to help with.”

He said raising money for this project is just like any other project.

“You go out and put it before the community and see what you can get,” Betebenner said.

Zack Odem, outgoing Student Senate president, said he has not heard any news about the status of the rec center project.

“I hope the administration doesn’t drop the project,” Odem said. “It’s important to the University as a recruitment and retention tool.”

Fullerton said he thinks the project is going well.

“It’s a crazy time of year for the architects and us,” he said.

He said those working on the project are “excited,” and students have been supportive.

“So far [everything] has gone very well,” Fullerton said.