University Hosts Groundbreaking for New Health and Wellness Center

Friday, June 1, 2018
The health and wellness center

On Thursday night, Rockhurst University officials invited a small crowd of members of the board of trustees and other stakeholders to a parking lot and asked them to imagine.

The De Smet parking lot, at the southeastern corner of Tracy Avenue and 53rd Streets, is about to be transformed.

“Look around you and you will see the corner of new and improved,” said Kerm Fendler, Pharm.D., ’68, chairman of the University’s board of trustees, referring to the newest academic building, Arrupe Hall, and the improvements unveiled in April to Loyola Park baseball field.

Thursday’s ceremonial groundbreaking served as official announcement of the newest addition to the Rockhurst University campus, the health and wellness center. The construction of the center on the site of what is now the De Smet parking lot is expected to last approximately 18 months from the time crews begin.

“From the outset, it has been our focus to construct a building that will meet the health and wellness needs of our current student body, but at the same time, we need to think about what will be the emerging trends and changes in the fitness world in years to come,” said Matt Quick, Ph.D., vice president for student development and athletics.

The amenities in the new facility include a training center with cardio and weight training equipment, private bathrooms with showers, locker room facilities for men’s and women’s athletic teams, a multipurpose space, and studio spaces to allow fitness and wellness classes. From the outside, the center is currently designed to mirror design elements from nearby Arrupe Hall. Large glass walls will welcome natural light into the building and offer a view of Bourke Field.

Many of the decisions as to what would be in the space, Quick said, were made with feedback received through input sessions with students and with faculty and staff. The University’s planning committee for the project also toured other recreation centers in the area for inspiration.

Salim Gumati, ’18, a member of the men’s soccer team and current student in the doctor of physical therapy program, said the center could be a game-changer for students and student-athletes alike.

“With this project, I see an opportunity for Rockhurst to go above and beyond again by giving an outlet to students who want to better themselves from a health and wellness perspective,” he said.

Providing such a facility will no doubt improve the student experience, Quick said. But it’s also a reflection of the University’s Jesuit identity, an expression of the core values of cura personalis, or “care for the whole person,” and magis, or “more.”

The Rev. Thomas B. Curran, S.J., president of the University, described the site, in that sense, as “sacred space.”

“This is in fact, is sacred space, because everything on this campus and every activity is an opportunity to find God in all things,” he said.