Feb. 26, 2015 – The much-anticipated George S. Eccles Student Life Center celebrates its grand opening with a dedication ceremony today. The 183,000-square-foot, $50.5 million building houses two gymnasiums, a four-story climbing wall, an outdoor pool and an indoor Olympic-size pool, expansive areas for cardio and weight training and more.
“We’ve been preparing for this facility for many years, and I am thrilled that students will have such an extraordinary place to engage in their college experience, build friendships and develop skills they will use for the rest of their lives,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Barb Snyder. “Our campus is uniquely situated amid some of the most exciting natural recreational opportunities in the country, and this facility, coupled with our Outdoor Recreation Program, will help students take advantage of our environment in a safe and educated way.”
A $3 million grant from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation led the private fundraising campaign for the project, which also included early, $1 million leadership gifts from Kem and Carolyn Gardner and the University Federal Credit Union.
“For us, the most compelling aspect of the center is that it’s been student-led from the very beginning,” said Eccles Foundation Chairman and CEO Spencer F. Eccles, “The students have been the ‘engine driving this project,’ and they have remained passionate, determined and unflinching in their commitment to its success.”
“Our foundation jumped on board with the students more than six years ago with the funds they needed to begin the center’s design and planning,” added Eccles Foundation President and U trustee Lisa Eccles, “We share their excitement about the completion of such an incredible addition to our beloved alma mater. We certainly didn’t have anything like this when I was a student here!”
Student life centers are becoming more common on campuses across the country. Nearly all of the U’s peer institutions have recently built or have plans to renovate or expand or begin work on recreation facilities. Those that have already built centers have seen improvements in student GPAs, retention and graduation rates and recruitment efforts. In fact, research indicates that participation in university recreation programs correlates positively with overall college satisfaction and success.
Funded in major part by a new $60-per-semester student fee, the balance of the building was funded through private gifts and faculty/staff use fees. The facilities will be available first and foremost to students, with faculty and staff usage limited to those who purchase a membership. All for-credit physical education classes will continue to be held in the HPER building, fields and various off-campus locations, keeping the facilities available for students to use outside the classroom with varied schedules.
Located just west of the George S. Eccles 2002 Legacy Bridge and adjacent to the Fort Douglas TRAX stop, the center will create a more dynamic and engaged campus community for students living both on and off campus. The facility will be open year-round, seven days per week.
“After a decade of hard work and commitment, the opening of this center is, almost literally, a dream come true!” said former ASUU President Neela Pack, who led the charge for the center in 2011-12 and will join other former student body officers participating in today’s dedication. “What a fantastic difference it’s going to make for thousands of students now and throughout the future.”
“We couldn’t be more excited or more pleased for our students and the entire campus community, or more appreciative of the generosity of the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation and our other generous funding partners,” said U President David W. Pershing, “The positive impact this center will make throughout the university cannot be overstated.”