Last month the University of Georgia Ramsey Student Center turned 20 years old. Over the years, the Ramsey Student Center has undergone numerous renovations and improvements with the goal of providing top-notch recreational programming that is reflective of the highly ranked university.
Christina Reynolds, the public relations coordinator at the University of Georgia Department of Recreational Sports, answers a few of our questions, highlighting how the Ramsey Student Center has changed over the years and how they celebrated the milestone.
CR: Over the past 20 years, how has the Ramsey Student Center changed?
Reynolds: We’ve made updates over the years to stay current – like adding digital signage and maintaining state-of-the-art equipment. The biggest physical change has been a set of renovations, which has involved new paint, flooring and signage throughout our 440,000 square foot facility. The first stage of this renovation has also involved constructing a new front desk and main offices, switching to a more modern system for processing payments and completely re-doing our main lobby and turnstiles. We’ve also centered on a color scheme of black, red and gray, which are our school colors, just to give our facility a real University Georgia feel. Our patrons have loved the changes.
CR: What makes the Ramsey Student Center stand out from the rest?
Reynolds: We’re fortunate to be a very large facility and one that has a lot to offer: four gymnasiums, a climbing wall, bouldering wall, three pools (including a 17-foot diving well, Olympic-sized pool and recreation lap pool), 1/8 miles indoor suspended track, 10 racquetball courts, two squash courts and over 19,000 square feet of weight-training and cardio space. In 1997, Sports Illustrated named us as the best college recreation center in the country.
I think we also have a great deal of support from the university community and from our students. The Ramsey Student Center is a name everyone knows on campus and we’re trying to think outside the box with programming to make sure there’s something here everyone can enjoy. For example, we have intramural Battleship, which takes place in the Natatorium. Students in canoes use buckets and a shield to try to sink each other. Even though we have over 6,000 patrons coming through our doors every day, we try our best to get to know each of them and provide the best customer service experience we can.
CR: How are you celebrating the 20th anniversary?
Reynolds: We celebrated the anniversary with a campaign called Ramsey Renewal, which includes our renovations plus several special celebrations. For the students, we hosted a Dawgs After Dark late night event in the Ramsey Student Center where we had a birthday cake that was 12 feet long! We also had a small luncheon with our professional staff and other Student Affairs partners where we had some retired staff, including the first director of recreational sports, come back and speak about what Ramsey was like 20 years ago. They gave some wonderful insights on what campus was like before Ramsey was built, as well as the work that went into constructing a facility with a footprint of eight acres.
CR: Looking toward the future, where do you see the Ramsey Student Center in 10 years?
Reynolds: UGA as a whole has implemented a strategic plan called, “Building on Excellence” that will take us through 2020. In the Division of Student Affairs, we are focusing in on values of inclusion, learning, partnerships, success and impact. For us, it means initiatives like continuing the Ramsey Renewal project through several more phases, engaging more with our student staff alumni, intentionally reaching out to underrepresented student populations and developing a departmental fellows program. Our goal is to be the best at what we do. One of our departmental values is “Ram Fam,” which stands for “Ramsey Family.” We found that our student employees were using that term to describe themselves, so we adopted it as a philosophy, not only for our staff, but also for all our patrons and partners. It’s indicative of the fact that everyone is welcome in our facility, and we want everyone to enjoy themselves.