A dozen facilities in one
It has been said that "a campus recreation facility… is actually a dozen different facilities. It is a gym, a resource center, a refuge, an office, a classroom, and an event location. It is a training center, a proving ground, a commons, a lounge, and a tour stop."1
Today, as we symbolically break ground for the Student Activities and Events Center, we look forward to a splendid addition to the IU Kokomo campus that will serve all of these functions and more.
Moreover, this much-needed and very welcome center will further strengthen the already vigorous spirit of community, scholarship, and fellowship at IU Kokomo.
The Regional Campuses: An integral part of the people's university
The Student Activities and Events Center—and, more broadly, the IU Kokomo campus—reflect the fact that Indiana University has served—and continues to serve—as the people’s university. As a public university committed to the well-being of all the people of Indiana, IU has, for nearly two centuries, been educating Hoosiers—and students from across the nation and around—at the highest level of quality. Over the course of the 20th century, IU’s educational reach expanded to every part of the state, through vibrant regional campuses like IU Kokomo.
Today, IU's regional campuses provide an excellent education to around 20,000 students a year, the vast majority of whom are Hoosiers, and many of whom are non-traditional or first-generation students.
Because Indiana University exists to benefit all the people of the state—and the world beyond—it also has a charge to continue its long tradition of engagement in the economic, social, environmental, and cultural life of all Hoosiers. For IU Kokomo and the other regional campuses of Indiana University, this charge is especially relevant. The communities and regions in which these campuses are located rely on their respective campuses for undergraduate and professional education that addresses regional needs. Engagement in the civic, cultural, social, and economic lives of their regions is a central mission of the regional campuses.
The wonderful and impressive level of support we are seeing for the construction of the Student Activities and Events Center in the Kokomo community is testament to the degree to which IU Kokomo continues to succeed in this important mission. It is also a measure of the level of pride community members take in the IU Kokomo campus and its successes. I know that many of you who are here today have already generously contributed to the capital campaign that is underway to help fund the building’s construction. All of us at Indiana University are deeply grateful for your support. In particular I want to express our thanks to the Community Foundation of Howard County—through foundation president Greg Aaron and members of the foundation’s board of directors who are with us today—for their generous matching gift of $100,000 for the center. And I also want to thank the government of Howard County for their recent gift of $75,000 in support of the center. Would you join me in expressing our thanks to the Community Foundation and the county government with a round of applause?
The Student Activities and Events Center
In breaking ground for the Student Activities and Events Center this afternoon, we celebrate a facility that will be part of Indiana University's ongoing effort to provide all of our students with environments that build community.
As a venue for IU Kokomo athletics, the center will provide a sense of excitement and pride for the extended university community. And the programming related to health, wellness, physical education, and recreation that will be offered in the center will also make important contributions to the improvement of health and wellness on campus. It will, in this regard, serve as a wonderful complement to the Milt and Jean Cole Family Wellness and Fitness Center, which we dedicated in 2013.
It will serve also IU Kokomo students as a venue for student meetings, and a wide variety of campus events, as well as conferences, workshops, and co-curricular activities that help students prepare themselves to succeed in the many roles they will undertake in the future.
IU Kokomo's newest building will not only enhance the vitality and functionality of this campus, it will also provide students with countless opportunities for engagement and leadership. It will also help the Kokomo campus to continue to attract and retain outstanding students.
Under the outstanding leadership of Chancellor Sue Sciame-Giesecke, IU Kokomo has experienced great success in recent years, with the largest freshman class in campus history, record overall enrollment, an increasingly diverse and academically qualified student body, and record numbers of graduates.
The splendid new Student Activities and Events Center will further strengthen the bonds between the IU Kokomo campus and the broader community.
And, for many years to come, it will represent the spirit of exploration and adventure that is at the heart of the very best education.
1. National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association, Campus Recreational Sports Facilities: Planning, Design, and Construction, (Human Kinetics, 2009) ix.