A campus recreation center that strengthens recruitment
It’s been just three years since Missouri State University (MSU) opened the Bill R. Foster and Family Recreation Center and the building is proving itself a powerful hub of campus culture and energy. Cognizant of the success MSU’s center has had to expand recreational programming, recruiting more students to the university and establishing a must-visit campus destination, Campus Rec Magazine asked us to author a piece that highlights the key steps in the design process that helped them build momentum and ensure success for the facility.
As the piece notes, one significant illustration of the facility’s success is the fact that in the three years since its opening, the student population has grown by 2,106 students compared to just 157 students during the three years prior. While there are undoubtedly many factors that contribute to recruiting, the new recreation center has absolutely played a role in catalyzing this growth. A major reason for the success of MSU’s recreation center is the university did not take a simple, “build it and they will come” approach. The center is the result of visionary planning, extensive student engagement and creative architecture.
The full Campus Rec piece can be read online. Below are two additional key excerpts:
On student engagement and inspiration
The push for the new building was fueled by students who gathered more than 1,000 signatures in two days to support a feasibility study for a new recreation center. Support for a facility continued to grow and Missouri State University never looked back. Being fully committed to the health and wellbeing of its campus body, the university decided to move forward with plans to create the new facility. Committed to a design process with heavy student involvement throughout, the university established a Project Steering Committee comprised of representatives from campus administration, planning and design, and student government representatives. All were active participants in the design team selection process, in interactive work sessions, and during every planning and design meeting.
On establishing connections to student life
Studies have identified the influence campus recreation facilities have on improved student recruitment and retention as well as improved student health, wellbeing and learning outcomes. The central location of MSU’s recreation center and its unique passageway mean essentially all students experience the building in some way day-to-day. The passageway connects major campus precincts and is surrounded by the student union, campus arena and arts center. All of these elements help increase student participation and the building is also now used in the University’s Convocation Day – when all students participate in a processional walk through the building.