Purdue approves projects aimed at enhancing the student experience

WESTVILLE, Ind. - The Purdue University board of trustees on Friday (April 9) approved moving forward on two student-driven projects to enhance the quality of student life and learning.

Meeting on the Purdue University North Central campus, trustees approved a request to plan the $30 million Center for Student Excellence and Leadership and approved awarding a $3 million construction contract to begin work on the Turf Recreation Exercise Center addition to the Student Fitness and Wellness Center.

The Center for Student Excellence and Leadership will house student organizations and programs that help students succeed at college and complete their education. The facility will have study/tutoring rooms, meeting and workrooms, student organization and staff offices, and design and storage space. The buildings, at the corner of Third and Russell streets, also may have retail space.

Purdue President France A. Córdova said the center, which is being totally funded by gifts, would enhance learning, develop student leaders, and create an environment for students, faculty and staff to interact outside the classroom.

"This center will be a major portal for all students to more easily access the resources they need to succeed in college and beyond," Córdova said.

The center will house the Student Access, Transition and Success offices, which includes the Boiler Gold Rush, learning communities and Purdue Promise programs. Space will be reserved for tutoring in math, chemistry and writing. Student organizations such as Boiler Volunteer Network, Purdue Student Government and Greek organizations will be located in the center.

The center was made part of the university's "New Synergies" strategic plan because it was recommended by working groups that included students during the strategic planning process. The president of Purdue Student Government expects that students will remain involved with the planning process and said that the center would improve student retention by engaging new students early and providing them strong support services.

"The center will forge new relationships and promote a sense of belonging as students and as alumni," PSG President Adam Kline said. "The center will promote cross-cultural understanding, provide endless opportunities for personal and professional growth, and smooth the transition of tomorrow's leaders from college life to the real world."

Scholer Corp. of Lafayette, Ind., has been contracted to provide planning services for what is expected to be 85,000 square feet of space in two buildings. The work is being financed with gift funds.

Purdue's commitment to the center comes in the wake of its expanded funding of the recently created Student Organization Grant Allocation (SOGA) Board. The university increased funding for SOGA to $150,000 in the 2011 fiscal year. The panel of student leaders will disseminate the money to student groups to fund events, activities, travel and services that benefit the entire student body.

The board of trustees also approved awarding a $3 million contract to RL Turner Corp. of Zionsville, Ind., to install necessary infrastructure prior to construction of the Turf Recreation Exercise Center (TREC) and the $98 million renovation to the Recreational Sports Center.

The 40-foot high, 33,000-square-foot TREC facility, slated to be built west of the aquatic center upon future board of trustees' approval, will provide an inside track and locker, court and fitness space during the larger renovation to minimize inconvenience to current students during Recreational Sports Center renovations.

The initial infrastructure work will be funded with bond proceeds and student fee assessment. TREC construction is scheduled to be complete before the Recreational Sports Center closes at the end of the fall 2010 semester. TREC will be converted to an indoor synthetic turf facility after expansion of the renamed Student Fitness and Wellness Center is completed in 2012.

Dan German, a competitive rower majoring in health and fitness, applauds the addition of over 140,000 square feet to the old "Co-Rec."

"As a personal fitness trainer, I can attest that more space is needed to meet the needs of today's student population," he said. "Doubling the personal fitness and weight training spaces will be well-received by students investing in their health."

Writer: Jim Schenke, 765-494-6262, jschenke@purdue.edu

Sources:   France A. Córdova, president@purdue.edu

                    Adam Kline, 765-499-1016, klinea@purdue.edu

                    Howard Taylor, 765-494-3114, hhtaylor@purdue.edu

                    Dan German. 765-418-5974, dgerman@purdue.edu