If You Build It They Will Come

Sept. 25, 1999

With the completion of the Student Life Center, Baylor offers current and prospective students a top-notch recreation facility, a new hub of campus activity, coordinated health and wellness programs and fun.

Kim Scott has kept a notepad at her bedside since she became director of campus recreation in November 1998, seven months after groundbreaking on Baylor's multimillion-dollar Student Life Center.

"It's the little things," Scott said. "I'll wake up in the middle of the night and think, 'Oh no! We need a foot-washing station out by the sand volleyball pits!'"

She scribbles down the thought so she can discuss it with the construction engineers the next day.

Scott isn't the only one on campus anticipating the Sept. 26 opening of the Student Life Center. Staff members of the University's Health Services division, which includes the Health Center, Health Education and Wellness Programs and the Counseling Center, also are eagerly awaiting their move to the new center.

Bringing these areas together under one roof reflects Baylor's comprehensive approach to holistic mind/body wellness and lifestyle that has put it at the forefront of Big XII universities, said Rosemary Townsend, administrative director for Health Services.

"A new home has been a long-cherished dream for us," said Townsend, noting that the current Health Center was built in 1963 and designed to accommodate a campus of 5,000 students. "But this is so much more than a new home. This is cutting-edge. We're already getting calls from our peers across the nation about what a wonderful concept this is. Actually, we are in the vanguard of the way things are going to go."

Townsend said there are four or five other major universities that are either duplicating Baylor's approach or have made proposals to their boards to do so.

"Health care in general is looking at prevention instead of only intervention, and you have to have the proper environment to do prevention," Townsend said. "What better time to do that with young people than when they're in college?"

Scott agrees that the new $18.8 million, 158,000-square-foot building will be state-of-the art. She visited 20 university fitness centers across the nation to garner ideas for Baylor's facility.

"I wanted the newest, latest, greatest for our students," she said.

SLC a Priority

Providing the best for the Baylor family is what the SLC is all about. Its construction has been a priority for Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr., almost from the day he took office.

"Just as we strive to prepare young people to have productive careers, so also do we have an equal responsibility to foster within them the knowledge and skills needed to withstand the stresses associated with our complex world," Dr. Sloan said. "The Student Life Center will provide a place for all students to come."

Dr. Steven Moore, Baylor's vice president for student life, said the SLC will have a huge impact - both on current students and in recruiting prospective students.

Create a Synergy

"One of the exciting things about the Student Life Center," Dr. Moore said, "is that it brings together all programs and activities that contribute to wellness and recreation on campus. It will be phenomenal to see the kind of synergy that can be created from that."

Dr. Moore said when he drives prospective students by the SLC, their jaws drop. "It is unbelievable the kind of impression it makes on them. It sends the signal that Baylor is committed to a well-rounded education."

The philosophy behind the SLC complements the University's mission of developing mind, body and spirit.

"The most wonderful thing about Baylor is that it is a total environment," Townsend said. "We (Health Services) are very much a part of that holistic environment. It is that great trinity of spirituality, holistic lifestyle and quality academic programs. That's what we're all about."

Faculty, Staff Benefits

Although this facility is for the student population, Baylor's faculty and staff also will benefit. Access - often a problem at the current fitness facilities in Marrs-McLean and Goebel - is expected to ease considerably. The SLC will be open 6 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to midnight Saturday, and 1 p.m. to midnight Sunday. The current noon faculty/staff hour will be eliminated to encourage interaction among all populations on campus. And, Kim Scott hopes administrators will rethink their approach to wellness.

"I hope our University will place so much importance and emphasis on holistic wellness of its students, faculty and staff that we do what the business world has been doing for 10 years - allow flexible scheduling so employees can come at off-peak times," she said.

Designated faculty/staff parking will be available close to the front of the building, located at Speight Avenue and South Third Street. Half- and full-size lockers, to accommodate a business suit or dress, will be available for a nominal rental fee.

"There are no fees for anything except locker rental," Scott said. "I'm promoting family time. I want you spending time with your wife or husband."

Children over age 16 will be issued a laminated ID card; children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Younger children will be welcome on designated Family Days at the center, scheduled between academic semesters, Scott said.

Programming is another area where faculty and staff will benefit. Cassie Findley, director of health, education and wellness programs for the campus, is excited about the potential the new facility provides.

"Never have we been able to offer such a comprehensive approach to an individual's health and well-being that can impact the rest of their lives," Findley said.

Coordinated Approach

Prime examples of this coordinated approach to preventive health care are the computer-assisted fitness testing and lifestyle assessments. Software programs will identify lifestyle behaviors and appraise health risks, genetic links and current habits. A fitness testing room will offer baseline health testing, including treadmill, body fat, blood pressure check, body mass index, grip strength, and more. The tests will help determine each individual's exercise prescription. These will be forwarded to Van Smith Davis, the center's new coordinator of fitness, who will develop a customized exercise program.

In addition to Davis, who also is a massage therapist, Scott's staff for the SLC includes Kevin Engelbrecht, coordinator of intramurals; Robert Graham, coordinator of the University's 18 sports clubs; and Jeff Walter, coordinator of facilities and maintenance. Scott also will have 13 graduate students and 120 to 150 work-study students.

Health Services

Health Services will be located on the second floor. Dr. Mark Schwartze, director of medical services for the University, looks forward to occupying this modern facility.

"It will allow us to have a facility in which we can become an accredited college health center. That's one of our top priorities in the next few years," he said.

In the near future, Townsend said Health Services also hopes to offer sub-specialty clinics on sports medicine, allergies, dermatology and women's health - all topics students have requested in past surveys.

On the third floor, a meeting room features the latest distance-learning equipment. Through long-distance conferencing, Townsend's staff can communicate with peers around the world, and students can supplement research.

"There will be multiple opportunities for that room to be used in a number of settings that are appropriate for the building," Townsend said.

The Health Services staff includes five doctors, headed by Dr. Schwartze; 13 nurses; two pharmacists; Dr. Glenn Pack, director of Counseling Services, three clinical psychologists and one part-time psychiatrist; plus administrative support personnel.

"I think this building will send the message loud and clear that the University is committed to mind, body and spirit," Findley said. "I can't wait for the day we can walk through the door of the new building and start changing lives."

For prospective students, the center's allure can probably be summed up in one word: fun.

"It's the fun part that an 18-year-old wants to see when they come on campus," Scott said. "'Where am I going to play?' That's what they want to know. It's a social as well as a physical thing."

Dr. Moore in Student Life agrees: "This will provide a kind of crossroads for campus, a gathering place to promote interactions for all members of the Baylor community - faculty, staff and students."

As for Kim Scott, she eagerly anticipates opening day for another reason.

"I cannot wait for the students to walk in here, to see the quality of facility that we have for them, and to know that this commitment made by the administration, the alumni and the donors is a commitment to a lifestyle of health," she said.

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