Contact: Ellen Sterner
SMU News & Media Relations
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Feb. 21, 2003


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Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports renderingDALLAS (SMU) -- SMU students will be able to enjoy state-of-the-art recreational facilities when a new complex opens in September 2005.

SMU Trustees approved the Administration's plans to expand the school's existing student recreation center, the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports. The expansion, which resulted from a student initiative, will be funded by a 1-1/2 percent increase in tuition and fees in each of the next two years, on top of the increase of 6 percent for 2003-2004.

"This project is a great example of collaboration between student leaders and the administration," said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. "The students effectively presented the case for an expanded center, gathered information, and presented it through the right channels. As a result, SMU will have a state-of-the-art facility that will enhance campus life and help to uphold our commitment to excellence in all aspects of the collegiate experience."

The $25-million expansion will be built on the south side of the Dedman Center, which was constructed in 1976 at a cost of $3.5 million. It will increase the gross square footage of the center from 55,000 to 150,000 gross square feet.

The expansion will include a six-lane recreational pool, a three-story rock climbing wall, a jogging/walking track, racquetball courts, basketball courts, an aerobics area, a weight room and a juice bar. Courts for outdoor basketball and sand volleyball will be built outside the new facility.

Judith Banes, SMU director of recreational sports and spirit, said the expanded facility will allow the university to offer additional non-credit fitness classes such as spinning and water aerobics. It also will allow the creation of additional intramural leagues for sports such as water polo, water basketball and water volleyball.

In addition, the facility will enable the university to have an outdoor recreation program that will enable students to borrow equipment for activities such as camping and rock climbing. Outdoor recreation is a growing field at colleges and universities.

"This facility will open up a whole world of possibilities for our students, faculty and staff," Banes said. She added that the new center will be open more hours a day than the current facility.

About 700 students a day currently use the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports. A 2002 survey of SMU students found that 32 percent paid an average of $52 a month to use off-campus recreational facilities.

"The Dedman Center will be a community -builder that increases the value of our university and the value of what it produces," said Dustin Odham, president of the SMU student body.

SMU officials say the expansion will aid in student recruitment and retention and will make SMU's center comparable with recreational facilities at competing institutions.

Research from Arizona State University and Texas A&M University showed that students who used campus recreation centers earned higher grade point averages and attempted more credit hours than non-users. Many other universities in Texas have recently opened new recreation centers or have facilities under construction.

Groundbreaking for the new facility is expected to take place in December. The facility is being designed by Renaissance Design Group of Des Moines, Iowa.