NEWBERG — In response to continued enrollment growth, George Fox University is moving forward with plans to construct a new Student Activity Center to accommodate the need for more space for activities ranging from intramural sports to campus-wide dances.
The 30,000-square-foot facility, to be built on the east side of the Newberg, campus, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2018, with construction projected to begin during the summer of 2017.
The center tentatively will include two basketball/volleyball courts, a 5,400-square-foot area designated as student government office space, a fitness center, a rock-climbing wall, a dance and aerobics studio, and a student lounge.
“Ultimately, this building is being designed to enhance the student experience — to provide for them a space where they can further the relationships and experiences that make university life so rich and compelling,” said Brad Lau, vice president for student life.
“We’re excited for what this means for George Fox and for the students who will use this space for everything from intramural sports to dances to club meetings. It will be a dynamic space for student involvement, engagement, activities and leadership.”
The facility will alleviate demand for the school’s current athletic facility, the Wheeler Sports Center, so intramural games — which are currently held late at night in many cases — can be conducted at earlier times. Currently, the Wheeler gym is often occupied during early-evening hours by the school’s intercollegiate athletic teams.
The two basketball floors also will be used for campuswide events such as concerts and dances, Lau said.
In addition, the school’s student government organization, the Associated Student Community, will enjoy the luxury of more space, as a growing number of clubs — about 30 during the current year — are making it a challenge to accommodate them in the current Student Union Building facility.
The planned center would overlook Hess Creek Canyon, which is in the middle of campus ans is home to towering trees and native Oregon flora. A front desk and lobby area will be monitored for safety purposes and so students can check out a variety of athletic equipment.
There also will be designated space to store outdoor recreation equipment that can be checked out, such as backpacks and tents.
Also making a move will be the university’s rock-climbing wall and dance/aerobics studio, currently housed in the Wheeler Sports Center.
The Student Activity Center is the latest in a series of building projects undertaken to accommodate the school’s growing undergraduate population.
In 2015 and 2016, the university constructed the new three-story, 146-bed Brandt Residence Hall — named after former President David and Melva Brandt — as well as a bridge to better connect the east and west ends of campus. And this fall, the school will unveil the Canyon Commons dining facility, a 30,000-square-foot structure that will seat about 900 and include a dining hall, coffee shop and meeting rooms.
The construction projects come on the heels of continued growth in recent years, as George Fox last fall enrolled a record 3,931 students – 2,219 of whom were undergraduates. The 2015-16 enrollment total eclipsed the previous enrollment mark of 3,793, set in 2014.