Recognizing the importance of student health and recreation facilities, West Virginia University’s Board of Governors today (Sept. 17) approved a $27 million upgrade to the school’s recreation/intramural/club sports enterprise and student health and wellness system.
Combined, the much-needed improvements will feature a “one-stop shop” for student wellness along with new playing fields, tennis courts and other recreational space for intramural and club sports.
“I asked everyone to think outside the box on available recreation space and student health facilities and services—and they did,” President James P. Clements said. “These two plans not only address students’ needs today, but they are plans that 10 years from now will still be relevant.”
Student Government Association President Chris Lewallen praised the plan, saying, “WVU hit the ball out of the park with these plans. This is the best thing to happen for students since the Student Recreation Center opened in 2001.”
The call for enhanced recreation and club sports space has long been an SGA goal, he added.
“I couldn’t be happier for our students,” Lewallen said, “and I want to thank the University administration, my administration – and all the student leaders who came before me – for their hard work and dedication in getting us to this point. Think what a fantastic recruiting tool this will be for future students and employees.”
Clements agreed: “Past student administrations – particularly those of Jason Parsons and Jason Zuccari – along with the current SGA team led by Chris Lewallen and Ron Cheng – are to be commended for championing improvements to student health services and additional campus recreation space. All of these student leaders – and some before them – had these issues among their highest priorities and I am grateful for their leadership and their patience as these plans took shape.”
He also thanked the Student Affairs and Administration and Finance teams for their outstanding leadership on these proposals, and commended the Mylan Park Board for its cooperation on the use of those properties.
With the Board’s approval of these two plans, they now go to the architects to finalize the engineering and design work so that some of the projects can get under way this spring. Each component of the two plans over $1 million will also need approved by the Board as the projects move forward, officials said.
Rec, Club Sports Plan
Since his initial arrival on campus in March 2009 to interview for the presidency, Clements said students have expressed to him their interest in and need for additional recreation space and support for club sports, plus a better delivery system for student health, mental health support, counseling, nutrition, wellness programming and recreational activities. He promised at last October’s State of the University address that his administration would deliver such a plan.
“I am grateful for all the student input we received,” Clements said. “The survey, in particular, helped lead to a more comprehensive plan that will not only benefit students in club sports, but all students on campus.
“As I said last fall, I want WVU to be seen as one of the best campuses in the country for health and wellness programming. Once these plans take shape, I think we can truly say that with confidence.”
The recreation plan, estimated to cost about $8.4 million, includes installations at three locations: the fields at the former St. Francis school, adjacent to the Evansdale Residential Complex and Student Recreation Center; Mylan Park; and the current fields adjacent to the Medical Center.
The St. Francis location will include:
- a turf soccer field
- a grass soccer field which can also be used for general recreation space and flag football
- five hard surface, lighted tennis courts
- a walking trail around the Evansdale Campus.
The Mylan Park location will include:
- a new turf rugby field
- new lighted baseball fields and a lighted softball field
- utilizing Pro Performance as an indoor turf facility and the Mylan Park Expo Center as a multi-purpose recreation space—as early as this fall
The Med Center location will include:
- revamping the four flag football/soccer fields and moving the lights to the exterior boundaries and making improvements to the drainage system
In addition, the plan calls for the tennis courts adjacent to the Evansdale Residential Complex to be resurfaced and an additional investment in club sports. Athletic facilities that are currently being used for campus recreation will also remain available under the plan.
The improvements, which include a strong partnership between the University, City and Mylan Park, will be implemented over six years, with the first phase – the St. Francis fields and courts as well as the Mylan Park improvements – getting under way this spring for a Fall 2011 unveiling.
Funding for the initiatives will come from the capital budget, combined with an estimated $10 increase in the student recreation fee, effective in 2012, according to Vice President for Administration and Finance Narvel Weese.
Under its plan, WELL WVU – the University’s central division for student health and wellness programming – will consolidate the Student Health Service, Carruth Center for Psychological Psychiatric Services, pharmacy and laboratory services, possible retail services and other wellness functions into one designated facility.
The new building will be constructed on the current Communications Building site in Evansdale, near the new fields and Student Recreation Center. It will be about 50,800 square feet and is slated for completion by late Fall 2012.
“It will essentially be a one-stop shop for students,” said assistant vice president for Student Affairs Cathy Yura. “Currently, we are operating out of five locations – not the most effective way to deliver quality health care or wellness activities. This new streamlined delivery system will truly be accessible to all students.”
The new facility will offer services related to urgent care, primary care, psychiatric care and travel abroad care, as well as University Health Associates’ pharmacy, radiology and laboratory services, said Vice President for Student Affairs Ken Gray. The wellness and health promotion functions and programming will also operate out of the new facility, he added, with extended hours that meet student needs.
Current units occupying the facility – printing services, creative services, web communications and others – will be relocated to other campus facilities.
In addition, students will have secure, confidential access to their electronic medical records – no matter at which WVU health care facility they are seen. They will be able to request appointments and send messages to their doctors, as well as view medical information such as test results online. In return, WVU Healthcare providers will be able to document a visit, order tests and consultations, check lab results and review a students’ medical history. This secure electronic medical records system will provide seamless and coordinated service for all WVU students, but is not meant to take the place of face-to-face visits with physicians and other health care providers.
The University has also secured an improved package of health insurance options for students who are not on their parents’ plan and don’t have health insurance, officials say. They are also considering requiring health insurance for all students sometime in the future.
“Over the next year – and being mindful of national health reforms – a student health and wellness executive implementation team will explore what other universities have implemented with regard to requiring health insurance of their students,” Weese said. Student leaders will be consulted in the process, he added.
Under the WellWVU plan, the student health fee will remain at the current level of $74 per semester, but a $1 increase may be necessary in 2011 and a $3 increase in 2015, officials predict.
CONTACT: WVU University Relations – News
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