A kind of new-car smell wafted through the standing-room only MAC theater for President Breuder’s spring semester opening remarks, the first of which was “I hope Santa was good to you!”
For presently enrolled students and faculty, it would seem Santa has been overly generous this year as we return to the opening of three newly renovated spaces we’ve been missing: the library, MAC and PE Center.
Dr. Breuder went on to mention last fall’s record breaking enrollment numbers that had institutions as far as California inquiring as to what exactly is going over here in Glen Ellyn to have such success. Breuder told the audience, “We have an enormously positive reputation, but we can’t rest on that; we have to feed it.”
And feed it we have. 2014 marks a milestone for COD: there is nowhere on campus that is older than five years. Impressive stuff for a community college founded in 1967.
The first thing I noticed stepping into the magic realm of the president’s office for our interview was the rich mahogany tones of the space. Before I could even sit down I had to ask, “Was it hard for you to approve the new color palette in the MAC?”
“Not at all!” Dr. Breuder replied. “We wanted to bring light and life to the space.” Although it may not quite appear that way, our president is a “color person;” an advantageous characteristic the MAC’s sleek mauve interior is benefitting from.
Alive and vibrant, the red-oranges, purples and green of the newly made-over Arts Center is palpably full of creative energy. So aside from good color vibes, where did the $35 million go in the MAC?
The answer is, to many places the average eye can’t see: bringing the building up to code, heating and air conditioning, ventilation, roofing and windows. Most notably and recognizable is improving the acoustics in the theater, one can definitely check the box marked ‘incredible’ when it comes to the upgraded sound quality. “We spent about $5-10 million just moving people.” Breuder talks of the back-of-house wizardry that is allowing students to take class while remodeling large portions of campus – a massive undertaking that most would not even consciously think about walking to and from class.
On a very exclusive, very cool tour of the MAC and PEC just before winter break, tour guide President Breuder himself looked back at our small group of students and asked, “Who has a PE building better than you’re going to have in January?”
I can confidently say that the answer to his question is roughly the same number as the single-digit temperature outside. The renovated Physical Education Center (PEC) may not be 100 percent complete (pool will be ready in February), but the new facilities are without question launching athletics and fitness at the College of DuPage into 2014 and beyond.
In addition to the 15,000 sq. feet of new construction, the PE Center was mostly gutted and looked at for improved navigation; the result of which is an area specifically for the athletes and increased flow of traffic throughout the center. The building’s revamped south entrance is aesthetically modern from a host of green glass – not only in color, but because the material is energy saving.
Enter the PEC from the basement of the BIC and pass the spacious multi-purpose room. Perfect for aerobic classes or dancing Zumba, the now unrecognizable, old mat room boasts wood floors and floor to ceiling windows.
As you make your way past the coaching offices into the new nucleus of the center’s main floor, look down and note the carpet. Does it remind you of anything? Yes Virginia, that does look like EKG activity… as was its intention!
The large seating area leading into the fieldhouse/basketball court is a place that students and spectators can grab a snack and take a break from the action. No room on the couches or at the tables? Not to worry. Thoughtful design in the large staircase presents seating up both sides of the incline to the fitness center, out of the way from foot traffic and complete with comfy cushions.
The second floor fitness center is really where seasoned students can see some drastic differences. State-of-the-art workout equipment (that looks very complicated and expensive), new locker rooms, showers and offices for personal trainers; there is even a spinning studio. A hallway with glass half-walls allows passers by to view classes taking place on the floor below in the relocated mat room, as well as the newly coined “mind and body studios,” where yogis can peacefully practice.
Years ago, this birdseye view would have benefitted spectators of the 80s uber-sport, racquetball, but the renovation has created more space for classes like hapkido and Pilates. Classes taking place in these studios this semester are for-credit and can be found in the course catalog, however the PE Center hopes to eventually provide fitness classes for its paying members.
It is important to note the resources available for students to take full advantage of were designed with intent to serve the public and compete as one of the best regional health clubs available. Dr. Breuder expands on this sentiment: “We need to make community our defining virtue.”
If there is one takeaway I have from listening to Dr. Breuder address the COD community in my time here, it is that education is a business, but not just in a static, rigid sense. “We’re building these things because you, the customer expects state-of-the-art equipment, incredible faculty, to feel safe on campus… a good attitude. If we can’t provide these things, you’re going to go some place else.”
The president’s enterprise doesn’t stop as the doors to new facilities open either. This year’s plans include an initiative focused on drawing in new students and retaining them, synergizing the MAC and Waterleaf/Inn for a complete “art district” experience and the exciting Homeland Security Shooting Range project. On our tour of the new facilities the president mentioned 2014 was going to be about fixing the “ohs!” meaning dialing down the big picture to add all the finishing touches that will end up making a lasting impression on students and staff members for years to come.
Photo credit: Denton Dooley