Crowds gathered on the corner of Catherine and Academy as Kalamazoo College opened the doors to its new Fitness and Wellness Center.
President Dr. Jorge Gonzalez, joined by Mayor Bobby Hopewell and Board of Trustees member Amy Upjohn, briefly addressed the audience before the ceremonial ribbon cutting and building dedication.
Mayor Hopewell explained the Fitness and Wellness Center’s significance, speaking of the “importance of health in the community” and added that the new Center is a step toward “making long-term adults that are healthy.”
Trustee Upjohn recounted the history and purpose of the Fitness and Wellness Center.
“In 2009 discussions began,” Trustee Upjohn recalled, continuing, “this is a commitment to campus, and this was built for [students, staff, and faculty].”
The two-story, 33,000 square foot, $8.7 million facility was funded entirely through donations to the College.
“$8.7 million, and not a dollar of debt for our operating budget,” President Gonzalez exclaimed, “all thanks to our College community.”
President Gonzalez continued, “for years to come, this building will represent energy efficiency, sustainability, educational innovation and hands-on learning, as well as health and wellness.”
Aside from providing a space for the K community to stay physically active, construction of the facility provided K students the opportunity to design and conduct sustainability audits.
The Sustainability Committee suggested that estimated $50,000 be diverted from pursuit of a formal LEED certification and instead be used to train students to conduct an impartial sustainability audit. Michelle Sugimoto ’17 and Ogden Wright ’16 worked with the firms tasked with the facility’s construction and provided a LEED-like assessment of the Center.
“[This opportunity] enhanced my own K experience,” Sugimoto explained, noting that the College had the opportunity to, “define its own standards” and “provide an audit that is accessible to everyone.”
Money saved through the student-audit allowed for a 12 kilowatt solar panel array to be installed on campus, offsetting 5% of the Fitness and Wellness Center’s energy costs.
The new Center opened Monday, October 3rd, and saw nearly 300 attendees during its first day of operation.