Wayland focuses on student center

PLAINVIEW - In an attempt to break ground by the end of the year, Wayland Baptist University is pushing along its plans to construct the Pete and Nelda Laney Student Activities Center.

The activity center will provide what university officials are calling a much-needed fitness and wellness facility for students, and will be the center for intramural sports as well as a place for students to exercise and socialize. There is currently no such facility on the Wayland campus and with Hutcherson gymnasium housing the athletic teams, it is difficult for students to find the time or place to exercise.

"I see this center as becoming the heart and soul of student life on campus," said Wayland Vice President Dr. Russ Gibbs.

Gibbs said the building is named in honor of State Representative Pete and Nelda Laney to recognize their leadership and support for higher education in the state of Texas.

In an effort to meet the students' needs more quickly, administrators have deviated from the original plan in order to construct the 51,010 square-foot in two phases. Phase 1 will cost approximately $4.4 million dollars and will include a double gymnasium, indoor track, weight training and aerobics area, classrooms, dressing rooms and a student lounge. The facility will be completed in Phase 2 with the construction of an Olympic-size natatorium.

Wayland President Dr. Paul Armes, chairman of the campaign, spoke to the Plainview steering committee on Friday, explaining that while Wayland has made great strides in the last 10 years with the completion of the library, remodeling work on Gates Hall, Heritage walkway, new street entrances and dorms, only two of those projects have directly impacted the quality of student life.

"The Pete and Nelda Laney Student Activities Center has greater potential for the recruiting and retention of students than any other project we've done in the last 10 years," Armes said. "We believe the Laney Center will serve as an enticement to stay on the campus and in the area. This helps us maintain a safe and secure supervised environment for our students as they recreate."

Armes emphasized that the Laney Center is for the students, a response to "the most requested item on virtually all of our student satisfaction surveys.

"They will know that they, ultimately, are the reason we are building this structure," Armes said.

The campaign committee hopes to break ground by the end of the year and expects construction to take approximately one year. The Plainview Steering Committee is led by Rollie Hyde. Other members are Max Gabriel, Richard Ligon, Brian Pohlmeier, J.A. "Doc" Potts and Phyllis Wall.

Anyone interested in donating to the project is encouraged to contact Dr. Gibbs at 291-3430 or by email at gibbsr@wbu.edu, Martha Cross in the development office at 291-3427 or crossm@wbu.edu or any member of the committee. Naming opportunities are available for major gifts and all gifts are appreciated.