Governor Deval Patrick today joined state and local officials at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Wellness Center at Worcester State University.
“By strengthening the infrastructure of our public higher education institutions, we are providing a world class learning environment for the Commonwealth’s students and faculty,” said Governor Patrick. “Worcester State University’s new Wellness Center represents a powerful commitment to our students, our economy and the region.”
In 2008, the Patrick Administration along with the Legislature obtained passage of a $2.2 billion Higher Education Bond Bill to support the Commonwealth’s public colleges and universities infrastructure and building needs. This investment has resulted in the construction, completion or announcement of at least one project on each of the 29 public college and university campuses. The Higher Education Bond Bill authorized $25.5 million in funding for the Wellness Center, with supplemental funding for the $52.6 million project provided by the University.
“The Wellness Center is the capstone project of a ten-year, $200 million investment by multiple partners in facilities at Worcester State University,” said Worcester State University President Barry M. Maloney. “These investments have transformed our campus and aided efforts to retain and graduate students who go on to contribute to the regional economy. We would not be building this Wellness Center today if not for Governor Patrick’s advocacy for a higher education bond bill – one of his first acts when he took office. We are grateful to him and the Legislature for their support.”
The new 100,000 square foot wellness center will replace the University’s outdated gymnasium, which was originally constructed as a gymnasium, cafeteria and library. This old facility was deemed not in compliance with current National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) standards for athletics. Construction of the University’s new Wellness Center is being managed by the Commonwealth’s Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) and has been designed to create and accessible and welcoming facility for students.
“The new facility at Worcester State will be a tremendous asset for the school and the community,” said Congressman Jim McGovern. “I’m grateful to the Patrick Administration for their continued commitment to higher education and to improving the infrastructure on campuses throughout Massachusetts.”
The new building will contain two major gymnasia, a competition gym, “practice” gym for intramurals sports and a new fitness center, athletic department offices, trainer’s rooms, locker rooms, a snack bar, and also space for the University’s Facilities Department. By demolishing the old gymnasium, and replacing it with the Wellness Center, this project will help pave the way for the transformation of the campus from a school surrounded by surface parking lots to a more traditional New England campus with a central quadrangle.
“I am proud that this Administration has made strategic investments to all 29 public college and university campuses, building at least one new building on each campus,” said Secretary of Education Matthew Malone. “Worcester State University continues their long history of investing in student successes with the start of this new building project, which will be a future focal point on campus.”
The facility will incorporate energy saving features such as a solar heated hot water system, high efficiency boilers and lighting sensors and will be built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, a standard established by Governor Patrick’s Leading By Example Executive Order 484 in 2007. By building to LEED Standards the Wellness Center will achieve 20 percent higher energy efficiency than required by building code. The Wellness Center will be the fourth LEED certified building on WSU’s campus.
“I am excited to break ground for what will become a true state-of-the-art facility,” said DCAMM Commissioner Carole Cornelison. “The Wellness Center will welcome students with an inviting and functional design while meeting the highest standards for energy efficiency making it an asset for the University that will stand the test of time.”
Through collaboration with the Legislature, the Fiscal Year 2015 signed by Governor Patrick in July included $75 million in increased funding for public higher education to help support the Patrick Administration’s goal of offering affordable access to a high-quality college education to the Commonwealth’s students.
“The new Wellness Center on the campus of Worcester State University, which replaces the old Lancer Gym, will meet the increase demands of student athletes and the community. It will serve as a point of interest on the campus for the 6,000 students at Worcester State,” said Senator Michael O. Moore. “Today marks a bright future for Worcester State and its students, as it continues to provide a world class, affordable education, while offering students state of the art facilities and amenities.”
“It is important to have a wellness center where students can exercise to maintain and improve overall health, and take mental breaks from academics,” said Senator Harriette L. Chandler. “Worcester State has been home to many individuals who have attended and graduated from its excellent programs and given back to our community, and I hope to see more students thriving in Worcester as a result of their education from institutions of higher education like Worcester State.”
“The new facility will foster student well-being that is important for academic achievement,” said Representative Tom Sannicandro. “By making this investment in Worcester State University we further Massachusetts’ record of providing competitive and affordable public higher education.”
The Wellness Center was designed by ARC (Architectural Resources Cambridge) and is being constructed by W.T. Rich Company of Newton and is expected to open in 2016.
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