Dakota Wesleyan University (DWU) is hiring a private firm to manage a health and fitness center set to open next year on the Mitchell, South Dakota, campus.
The university has announced plans to have GreatLIFE Malaska Golf & Fitness Club run the Donna and Paul Christen Community Health and Fitness Center, a 4,000-square-foot space that will be part of the DWU/Avera Sports and Wellness Complex, now in the final stages of construction.
DWU expects to open the complex after the first of the year and has planned a grand opening and dedication ceremony for the facility on Feb. 4.
University officials decided that it would be beneficial to bring in a company with previous experience managing a fitness facility to run the new center.
“Our primary business is education, and we were looking for a partner with a level of expertise that we didn’t have,” says Lori Essig, vice president of marketing and communications at DWU. “We wanted to create a facility that serves community members as well as students.”
GreatLIFE manages or partners with 11 fitness centers and 21 golf courses at 19 locations within three states. Twelve of the locations are in Eastern South Dakota, including a wellness center at Avera Queen of Peace Hospital in Mitchell. Avera is contributing $2.5 million to the university over five years to help pay for the wellness complex.
The university sought additional health and fitness space on campus to address the growing demand for such facilities among students and student-athletes.
Since the university’s existing athletic facility, the Christen Athletic Center, was built some 30 years ago, enrollment has increased significantly, and the number of intercollegiate athletic programs at Dakota Wesleyan has grown from seven to 15, Essig says.
“That was a time when personal health and fitness were not on the radar of the average person as much as they are today,” says Essig.
The new DWU/Avera Sports and Wellness Complex is an 85,000-square-foot, one-story facility. In addition to the health and fitness center, the complex will have three indoor multipurpose sport courts, a wrestling room, the Glenda and Fitz Corrigan Fieldhouse and Athletic Institute, and locker rooms for students and for community members.