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Grand Opening

The Grand Opening Ceremony of the Student Rec Center was on April 1, 2010.

Grand Opening Speech by Alex Accetta, Director of Campus Rec

First things First - I have to take a picture.  Why? Because of you - this is all possible and I want to document all the people that made this happen.  I know it is a bit chilly so here is your chance to move around and warm-up - so for the next 10 seconds or so I need you all to wave at me on the count of three.  1....2...3...Thanks.

 We've been at this for eight years - so I have a little bit to say:

 First are some thanks that in no way are all-encompassing. 

  • Christy Harper and Stephen Ngai - the two students who eight years ago made it happen.
  • All the subsequent ASPSU leaders and Student Fee Committee Members.
  • The amazing CREC student leaders over the years who helped us grow from five students to a staff of 13 and over 150 student employees.
  • Students who every year have supported our measured growth that allowed us to open in a timely, safe, and effective way.
  • The absolutely amazing Campus Rec staff, but particularly my left and right hands; Todd Bauch and Jenny Welnick, who certainly deserve as much credit as I.
  • The construction and architect team who listened to me and at times mentored me, helping me to become a better professional.
  • Our Peers at Oregon State and University of Oregon who were consistently selfless in sharing with us what a great Campus Rec program should look like.
  • Unsung Heros - Bob Purcell and Karen Preston in Business Affairs; the accounting staff in Business Affairs; Dee Wendler and Mark Gregory in Finance and Administration; all of the staff of the Dean of Students area who supported us during the venture.
  • Ernest Tipton and Jennifer Sharp and Robyn Pierce from Facilities and Planning who have supported us and provided leadership...this was truly an all-campus effort.
  • And now I understand why at the Oscars they both cry and say thanks to their family.  My wife and kids and my Father-in-Law, the Great Baboo - there were many a late night and early morning and without them it would not be possible to try and model a semblance of a balanced life. 

Students have, for the last eight years, consistently demonstrated that they support activities that which are at the core of our values:  a healthy campus and an engaged campus.  By coming together, students have created a space the forever alters the landscape of Portland State.  This building and the programs in it have had an immediate impact on the culture on our Campus.

Let me share with you an example.  The other day as I was walking by our Member Services area, I overheard one of our student employees Maria Escobar say, and I promise this is not made up "This building makes me feel like I go to a real University." 

What I find beautiful about that quote was that it could have referred to almost any aspect of this building: it could be that she loved that she had class right down the hallway from where she was swimming; it could be that she felt she could commute on her bike, save money, and be healthy now because she learned to fix it at the Bike Hub; it could be because she saw her professor running on the track; or maybe it was because now she felt like she had a living room -  a living room on the Plaza that is now smoke-free I might add - a living room where she could rejuvenate her soul by practicing yoga while watching the sun-rise over Mt. Hood - all so that she would be centered for her next test. 

Whatever it might have been for Maria, it is tangible - you can feel it in this place - and I could not be happier to be part of a University that is demonstrating our commitment to the whole student.

Finally - I want to talk about Health.  This Student Rec Center will be a terrific jumping off point for a new Healthy Campus Initiative intended to focus on what it takes to support students in a holistic, balanced way - by giving energy to our health we can support students and give them strength to be ready to tackle the challenges and rewards of the classroom.  We need to exercise both the mind and the body in order to help our students stay in school and graduate.


We know that only a little more than half the adults in Oregon get regular moderate exercise.  We know that our country is now facing more childhood obesity and more diabetes than ever before. We know that schools are struggling to provide Physical Education.

So what students knew is that it is critical to provide opportunities for Students to exercise.  In a  2009 report from the California Center for Public Health Advocacy on the annual economic costs of physical inactivity estimated that $612 billion could be saved by improving physical activity rates and healthy weight maintenance by only 5 percent over five years.   So Portland State students were on to something in 2004 when they voted to create there own mini-Health Care Reform long-before the US Congress was able to...Students knew that by coming together to spend a little on this project that we can actually save a lot. 

Physical health is but one way this new building supports our educational mission. 

The building and all of its fun, amazing, engaging activities are really an educational tool: a tool to educate and model the way in making healthy lifestyle choices;a tool to teach us all about getting outside into our wonderful Northwest wilderness; a tool to practice leadership, community building, problem solving and the bringing together of diverse populations; a tool to model sustainable choices.    

I thank the students and staff who made this possible - I hope that we can help be a positive part in the new future of Portland State.