Subpar was the word to describe Utah State University’s (USU) recreational facilities in 2009.
Newly elected student body president Tyler Tolson and newly appointed vice president for student affairs James Morales both came to this realization. So, they decided to turn their realization into a shared vision. Tolson and Morales committed to working together to make a new recreation center students would want to come to.
This led to the construction of USU’s Aggie Rec Center (ARC), completed on November 19, 2015. Now, a little over three years later, the ARC is celebrating their one millionth visitor.
“Before the building opened, we averaged only 18 percent of the student population actively using the campus recreation facilities and programs,” said Chase Ellis, the director of campus recreation at USU. “After the building opened and program offerings were expanded, adopted and revamped, we have had 98 percent of the student population check in to our facilities once during the school year and have averaged 35 percent using the facilities and programs at least two times a week.”
Morales credits the heightened number of visitors to being able to meet the students’ needs. “Students value the ARC, not only as a place to support their fitness goals, but also as a place to socialize, connect and relax. They recognize the ARC as a beautiful, modern and conveniently located facility that helps meet their wellness needs,” he said.
The benefits of a new recreation center can be exceedingly high for both students and staff. It can help generate victories everyone can celebrate, like reaching your one millionth visitor. It can also connect students and staff by showing the willingness of staff to accommodate student requests. Plus, it can provide the best programs and facilities possible to keep users coming back.
“We as a staff quickly learned that with a new building, it sparked students’ interest in sharing ideas and thoughts of new additional equipment, programs and services they felt were missing,” said Ellis. “The past three years has been taking those ideas and finding creative ways to fund these programs, equipment and other ideas the students have shared.”
The secret to this success? Morales claims teamwork among the recreational facility and students. “Assembling a strong and creative design and construction team is one of the most critically important steps in the process. The team must include as many students as possible to ensure their input is infused into the process from beginning to end,” he said.
And with success, small or large, it’s important to celebrate. “Do not be afraid to celebrate the victories we have in changing, improving or enriching our students’ lives that come through our doors,” encouraged Ellis. “Taking time to celebrating these small victories allows us to continue to make lasting impacts in those lives we serve.”