May 23, 1996
Vol. 15, No. 18

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    Top-notch athletic facilities in future for University

    Committee studying needs, will recommend plan A new, state-of-the-art center for recreation and athletics is coming to the University in the near future, if all goes according to plan.

    "It is widely recognized that our current facilities are overused and don't meet the needs or standards of students, faculty, staff and families," said Henry Webber, Associate Vice President for Administration and chairman of the committee preparing a plan for new athletic facilities. "For example, fewer people are playing tennis and far more want to use fitness and weight-lifting equipment."

    "The notion that this is a sedentary community is simply wrong," added Tom Weingartner, Associate Professor and Chairman of Physical Education & Athletics and a committee member. "From the 450 to 500 intercollegiate athletes to the record-high 3,200 students, faculty and staff who recently passed through the turnstile at Henry Crown Field House one day last quarter, there is a demand for these kinds of facilities on campus."

    Since February, the committee has been studying the needs of the University community for intercollegiate athletic, recreational and physical-education instructional facilities. The group has traveled to several universities, including Yale, Columbia, Emory and Washington University, to tour recently built facilities. The committee plans to present its recommendations this summer.

    The committee is considering various needs and wants of the University community, including:

    _ Excellent fitness facilities, including more aerobic and weight-lifting equipment.

    _ A first-rate pool. Webber said the group is considering an Olympic-sized, 50-meter pool with spectator seating.

    _ A gathering place for social functions, possibly with a small food bar and other such resources.

    _ More gym space for intramural and recreational sports and varsity athletics.

    _ Upgraded outdoor facilities.

    The question isn't whether a new center is needed, Webber said, but how much funding the University can allocate for such an endeavor. The University has received a gift of $5 million from an anonymous donor in support of the swimming component of the new athletic center, plus other gifts totaling $400,000, Webber said, and further fundraising will be needed.

    Members of the group have been meeting with the Physical Education & Athletics faculty and a student advisory board and are talking with as many people as possible to ensure that the new facilities will meet the needs of the University community.

    In addition to Webber and Weingartner, members of the committee are John Boyer, Dean of the College; Ted Cook, Dean of Students in the University; Starkey Duncan, Professor in Psychology; Duane Hickling, Associate Vice President for Facilities; Susan Plassmeyer, Manager of Strategic Planning; Steve Poskanzer, Executive Assistant to the President; John Stern, Director of Special Gifts; Lorna Straus, Professor in the College; and Ed Turkington, Dean of Student Services.

    Comments and ideas are welcome and may be directed to Webber at 702-3627 or via e-mail, hs-webber@uchicago.edu.