By Jacob Rzempoluch, Sports Editor
Walking along Bearcat Alley on September 9, one might have noticed twelve shovels with green and gold bows stuck in a shallow pit of dirt. These shovels remained from the ceremonial groundbreaking held to mark the genesis of the Dunlap Family Athletic and Recreation Center. This brand-new facility will begin construction sometime in January or February 2023, and is expected to take twelve to fifteen months to complete. Until then, the short line of dirt removed for the ceremony is all that will mark the future building site.
According to Saint Vincent College Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Jeff Mallory, a project like this has been in the minds of SVC leadership for several years. “We’ve had over a dozen different groups come together from student groups to facilities folks to external community stakeholders to say ‘Hey, what should we look at with such a facility?’” states Dr. Mallory. These conversations included topics such as the layout of the building, the equipment that will go inside, and health and nutrition desires.
The groundbreaking ceremony was representative of these different groups, with the participants including Student Government President Andy Kunz, members of the SVC Board of Directors and members of the Dunlap family. Student athletes from many different teams were also present. Timothy M. Dunlap, president and CEO of Centimark Corporation was one of several speakers during the ceremony. He later explained that “we’ve always enjoyed a great relationship with Saint Vincent”, which has led his family to continue their support of the college, especially in memory of his late father Edward B. Dunlap Jr.
While certain details of the building are still being determined, facilities will include a healthy cafe, a recreational track around a turf field, a weight room, and private group fitness rooms. These facilities were designed to be accessible for all students rather than for competition; intramural sports and practices may be held in the Dunlap Center, but collegiate level athletic contests will not. The multimillion dollar facility will be funded primarily by private donations and state grants.
Student reactions to the proposal for the Athletic and Recreation Center have been mixed. Joe Bujdos, senior engineering major, declares that “it will be a great addition to our campus and provide the athletes a special place to practice and work out when other locations are not available”. Elizabeth Elin, senior theology and english double major, says “I understand that the money may have been ‘restricted’ for use on the athletic center. But it’s hard to watch money keep getting poured into athletics when so many other things at Saint Vincent could be improved”.
In the last decade, the construction of the Sis and Herman Dupre Science Pavilion and the renovation of the Latimer Family Library have substantially impacted student life. As construction begins and the Dunlap Family Athletic and Recreation Center takes shape, it will soon become clear whether this new addition to campus will play as large a role in student life as the rest of the campus facilities.