$12 million renovation begins on the Recreation, Fitness and Wellness Center


Photo by Quinton Watt

The Recreational, Fitness and Wellness Center (RFWC) has fencing up to begin the $12 million construction project. The fencing is blocking the main entrance, but students can still enter and exit the RFWC by taking the sidewalk near the Aquatic Center that leads to a different door.

Alyssa DeWig, News Editor

The Recreation, Fitness and Wellness Center (RFWC) is undergoing a $12 million construction project that is expected to be completed by 2024. The construction includes relocating Counseling and Psychological Services, Public Safety and the University Health Center into the RFWC.

Jim Wolfe, director of facilities operations and planning, is overseeing the construction process. He said the construction “will bring wellness more front and center, and make those groups easier to access and give more visibility to them.” 

Wolfe said the construction is a Capital project funded by Indiana in 2019. The plan was to start the project one year after it was funded, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project was delayed.

The RFWC will not be closed at any time during the process of the construction. 

In total, Wolfe said, they are “adding 31,000 square feet and renovating 10,000 existing square feet.”

Wolfe said the RFWC construction will produce two new entrances because “the center entrance, where you normally come out, is the back of the library, and nobody can get in or go out that way, so they’re moving the entrances to where the students flow normally.”

The front entrance of the RFWC is blocked off by fencing that was put up for the beginning stages of the construction. Students can still enter and exit the RFWC by taking the sidewalk near the Aquatic Center that leads to a different door.

The Wellness Center will be a new addition to the RFWC building. 

Moving into the Wellness Center within the RFWC will be the departments of Public Safety, Wellness, Religious Life, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), University Health Center and University Communications,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe said moving Public Safety out of the facility behind the Liberal Arts Center and into the RFWC “puts it in the middle of campus, versus being in the back, so quicker access.”

Amelia Cashel-Cordo, junior environmental science major, said adding the Wellness Center is going to make the RFWC “more dedicated to mental health, which is certainly very helpful.”

The Deaconess Clinic operated University Health Center is relocating from the basement of the Health Professions Center to the second floor of the RFWC, as part of the Wellness Center.

Wolfe said the space for both Counseling and Psychological Services and the University Health Center in the RFWC will be larger than their current spaces “so they have room for growth.”

The space the University Health Center occupied in the Health Professions Center is expected to begin going through a renovation during Summer 2023. Wolfe said the plan is to begin in May 2023 and finish by August 2023. The space will be renovated for more usage and equipment for the dental program, with $5 million going toward purchasing new equipment, including an increase in dental chairs from 12 to 18.

The renovation to the basement of the College of Nursing and Health Professions is a part of a larger renovation to the building. The first floor of the Health Professions Center will be utilized for radiology. Wolfe said the equipment will be updated because the current equipment is 20 to 25 years old. He said there will be additional machinery for up to 5 or 6 people to train on.

In the lower levels of the building, the Clinical Simulation Center (CMC) and new classrooms will reside. He said the CMC will “provide immersive and hands-on learning experiences for nursing and healthcare students.”

The renovations to the building, as well as the relocating of the Counseling and Psychological Center, Public Safety and the University Health Center will all be complete when the Wellness Center construction is finished.

Wolfe said the plan is to continue making campus more American Disability Approved (ADA). As with current buildings on campus, this includes continuing to make sure restrooms and stalls are a certain size, as well as including rails with the right angle, so those with wheelchairs or crutches have accessibility. He also said campus signage has braille for those who are visually impaired.

“The architects know that when they come in and start planning. We try to make everything accessible,” Wolfe said.

As someone who works in the RFWC’s Climbing Center, Cashel-Cordo said while some students are disappointed that it will take until 2024 for the construction to be finished, “nothing would ever get done if we didn’t take the time to do it right.”

Cashel-Cordo said, “We just have to be selfless and know that this is for future people. Even if we have to deal with the not-so-fun parts, it’s for future kids to get the good part.”