NEW CONCORD — Developing connections between students, the community and the region were driving forces in building the three-story Henry D. Bullock Health and Wellness Complex on the campus of Muskingum University.
The $38 million, 119,000-square-foot facility is nearing completion with a grand opening planned for September, said Muskingum President Sue Hasseler.
Muskingum received $21.5 million in philanthropic gifts for the facility, which is named in honor of Bullock, a 1977 alum, in recognition of his lifelong service and generosity to the university.
Bullock is the lead donor for the complex. Other gifts, like the $1.25 million from the J.W. and M.H. Straker Charitable Foundation, stem from the support of community partners, alumni and friends.
Donors will be recognized within the complex and online when the building opens.
“When we planned this, we discussed how it would impact our community and campus and how it would serve our students and community,” Hasseler said. “We see Muskingum as an important part of our region. We built this facility to make an impact here and our region. It’s exciting to see it come together, and there’s a lot of anticipation about its opening.”
The complex will be used for athletics, recreation, academic programs and overall well-being, said Hasseler. The school is currently discussing its program planning to utilize the facility, and a long-term plan will also be put in place, she added.
The project is scheduled to be completed on time and on budget, as Hasseler credited the board for approving the project in April 2020, a month after the COVID-19 lockdown went into effect.
Lincoln Construction, out of Columbus, is the main contractor, while the use of local and regional contractors have been crucial to keeping the project on time.
“Our local and regional contractors have stepped up and been committed, which is a huge difference. They have been willing to go the extra mile, and the project has already had an enormous impact on our community and area,” Hasseler said.
The complex has three components.
The first features stadium updates, including 2,000 bleachers seats, a concourse that can handle up to 200 people and a video scoreboard. There will also be an indoor/outdoor concession stand, handicap accessible seating and barrier-free entries.
Muskingum also added more than 200 parking spots behind the stadium.
“We visited several professional parks before we implemented our space. We want to give our spectators a unique, enjoyable experience,” Hasseler said. “We wanted to make it spectator friendly so it was a deliberate and significant part of our plan. People will have maximum visibility throughout the stadium, and the hospitality space will be covered in the concourse.
“Along with hosting our sports, we’re looking forward to hosting area high school events like football games, lacrosse matches, track meets and band shows.”
The second part features a 70,000-square-foot fieldhouse, which includes a 200 meter, six-lane track. Muskingum, which has 22 NCAA Division III programs, along with archery, stunt and Esports, also installed a turf field for their teams to use.
Hasseler added the indoor track will have areas for throwing events like shot put, pole vault and high jump, so the university can host meets.
“Our intention is this isn’t only for our students, but for all area students,” she said. “We want our teams to utilize the facility as needed. We can use it for so many things that it’s not just of local interest, but regional interest. We believe it will be a very appealing facility.”
The wellness corridor is the third and final component. It will be dedicated to learning, particularly for STEM and health sciences students to get hands-on clinical experiences.
Hasseler said the space will have versatility like the press box becoming a classroom during the week. There will be clinical space for health care providers, and sports medicine professionals and orthopedists will have room to perform diagnostic checks and other tasks.
“We want to fully utilize the entire space,” Hasseler said. “We believe this will help contribute to the health and well-being of people in our region. We will have unique equipment that can provide value and assistance to other facilities in our area. We can also offer diagnostic services.
“Our facility can also help prospective nursing graduates have more experience under their belt as they enter the workforce.”
The opportunity to benefit so many is why the project became a reality, and Hasseler, among others, is excited to put the facility to good use.
“We want to support the community and area in a multitude of ways,” she said. “There’s a lot of anticipation of what this facility can be, and we look forward to making a positive impact for years to come.”
‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort