New director sees bright future for SDSU’s Wellness Center

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By Kaila Vetch

The expansion on campus isn’t just taking place in The Union and in residence halls, it’s also cropping up in the Wellness Center.

Jeff Huskey has been appointed as the new Wellness Center director—a position with a hefty task at hand. As the director, Huskey will be overseeing the new Wellness Center expansion, which is expected to begin in the fall of 2013 and will take approximately 18 months.

Huskey arrived in Brookings after a longstanding career of improving and building recreational centers all around the country. SDSU will be the seventh university he has worked at. Huskey started out at Wofford College in South Carolina and helped build training facilities for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. He moved on to help construct recreational centers at other colleges as well.

His most recent recreational program was at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., after which he decided to come to Brookings. Huskey is also heavily involved in national committees for recreational sports facilities, including the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association.

The Wellness Center director position was first opened two years ago and closed without being filled. The position reopened this year. With a high level of national involvement, Huskey could have gone anywhere in the country, but he said he chose Brookings based on a number of qualities that he liked.

Although the Wellness Center was remodeled four years ago, Huskey feels that there is a continual need for improvement.

“We outgrew it the day we moved in,” Huskey said. “We need more space.”

The Wellness Center is booming with students and off-campus residents. Huskey explained that the Wellness Center is below national standards on how much space is recommended per student, along with gym space. His focus is on more space, as well as better availability.  With the expanding campus and continually growing town of Brookings, Huskey sees the demand for the Wellness Center to keep up-to-date and meet the needs of the people who come through its doors.

The big changes are more workout space, courts and studios. There will also be racquetball courts, expansion of the track, more office space and infrastructural changes.

“This is a pretty building, but some of the things behind closed doors aren’t where they should be,” Huskey said.

Lack of storage space, the laundry system and an understaffed custodial team are all areas that are in need of more attention. The Student Health Clinic will also see some changes, including more offices, nurses and counselors so that scheduling will be less hectic, leaving the clinic more accessible to students.

There has also been talk of an indoor leisure pool—an idea that hinges on the scale of the budget.

Some changes have already been implemented, such as the Wellness Center and Counseling Center hours. The Wellness Center’s closing hour has changed from 11:00 p.m. to midnight, allowing more time for students to utilize the building’s resources.

This summer the center also installed new scoreboards for its intramural courts and added video screens for marketing purposes. The clinic’s transition from paper to electronic medical records has been the most recent change this fall.

Huskey has a vision for the Wellness Center to be a fun and welcoming environment, and he is focused on making that happen.

“One of the things you have to be careful of in a fitness facility is that you are not an intimidating space, so we want all students comfortable in coming here,” Huskey said.

Efforts are already underway to improve the Wellness Center’s image, including the center’s involvement in freshman orientation and the focus on a more positive communication of wellness.

“It’s not just be thin, be thin, be thin, be buff,” Huskey said. “It’s make good decisions, be smart, know a little bit about fitness, know a little bit about nutrition, know about mental health. Leave (the Wellness Center) as a well-rounded individual.”

As the new director, Huskey’s goal for the Wellness Center is to push SDSU in a positive direction.

“We’re working on Phase Two. We’re going to try to address all the needs that we can, for as much as we can afford,” he said. “We’re definitely trying to expand our hours and our outreach across campus and be a little more involved in making it a fun, welcoming environment for students.”