UHD’s Wellness & Success Center Brings a New Era for Health & Well-Being
By Sheryl E. Taylor
Just in time for the first day of the Spring Semester, the Wellness & Success Center (WSC) is ready to serve the Campus Community.
The University community is invited to celebrate the WSC’s grand opening with two upcoming events:
- UHD Sports & Fitness is hosting Opening Day for students and employees at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 17, with remarks from UHD Sports & Fitness Director Richard Sebastiani and Associate Director Dr. Rhonda Scherer, plus Dean of Students Dr. Meritza Tamez. Immediately following, the Center will be open for the UHD Community to tour and exercise.
- A ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring University of Houston System (UHS) Chancellor Renu Khator, UHS Board of Regents members, elected officials, and special guests will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, Jan. 20. The event will host interactivities for WSC visitors.
The $39 million Center, which sits in the heart of the campus adjacent to the College of Sciences & Technology, was created to redefine the student experience at UHD by enhancing fitness, recreation, and learning about health and wellness while providing Gators with new areas for studying, socialization, and community-building.
Prior to the new WSC, the Jesse H. Jones Student Life Center served the University as a hub for student activities for 25 years. In the intervening years, student enrollment has nearly doubled and increased the demand for more exercise classes and sports and wellness options.
The WSC was funded by a student referendum pushed forward by UHD’s Student Government Association and approved by state legislation. In 2019, UHD Alumna and State Rep. District 144 Mary Ann Perez authored House Bill (HB) 1277 during Texas’ 86th Legislative Session authorizing a dedicated student fee to support the project. State lawmakers approved HB 1277. Previously, the University of Houston System Board of Regents and UHD students voted to approve the fee for this new facility.
“All credit goes to the former students who voted to fund the Wellness & Success Center,” said Scherer. “Their trust and value of a healthy UHD community illustrates the quality of our Gator alumni.” Scherer also noted that the WSC will expand the campus footprint from a 30,000 square-foot facility (original Student Center) to a 75,000 square-foot facility. Amenities include more than three times the number of pieces of equipment, exercise studios, three basketball/volleyball courts, a customized bouldering wall, indoor running track, a demonstration kitchen for nutrition, workshops, study/meeting suites, massage/personal training spaces, and a parking garage. The Center’s architectural design is by SmithGroup with contractor/builder Vaughn Construction.
The WSC also will expand upon its current offerings to include yoga, Zumba, bootcamps, personal training staff, healthy workshops (mental/physical health/nutrition), as well as continue to support the highly competitive club sports and intramural programs. In the near future, UHD Sports & Fitness plans to offer limited community memberships. Affiliates or friends of the University will be eligible to purchase half-year or annual memberships. The WSC hours of operation will be:
- Monday – Thursday, 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.
- Friday 6 a.m. – 7 p.m.
- Saturday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
- Sunday noon – 4 p.m.
“Our students are second to none and deserve a state-of-the-art fitness facility and outstanding health and wellness programming," said Scherer. “This space provides amazing amenities and an invitation for our students to stay on campus beyond their academic commitments. UHD is their collegiate home and Sports & Fitness is where their health and wellness goals can be achieved. Just as UHD has become our student’s university of choice, we want to be their gym of choice. Our expanded hours, operations, programs, and services will make this happen.”
Sebastiani added, “This facility will be a game changer in terms of the greater quality and space of exercise facilities and programs that will be available for the University community. It also demonstrates UHD’s commitment to student wellness on campus. We expect the WSC to make a positive impact on student recruitment and retention in addition to improving the quality of student life on campus.”
When asked how the WSC aligns with President’s Blanchard’s Institutional Compass’ Four Points of Excellence, Scherer said, “Fitness serves a critical role at UHD by creating bonding experiences for our students with the institution. In addition to academic excellence, UHD built a wellness and success center to highlight the importance of the health and well-being of our students and their advancement while at UHD and beyond.”
“The opening of the Wellness & Success Center advances not only student well-being and success at UHD, but also the physical and mental wellness of our faculty, staff, alumni, and community members,” stated President Blanchard. “I could not be more pleased that student advocacy and support helped to bring this important addition to our campus to fruition, and I look forward to seeing our student body take full advantage of this wonderful facility.”
To attend the WSC Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony on Jan. 20 event, please RSVP.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates more than 15,000 students, boasts more than 64,000 alumni, and offers 46 bachelor’s degrees, 11 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities & Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences & Technology. For the fourth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranks UHD among universities across the nation for Best Online Criminal Justice Programs (No. 27 and No. 15 for Veterans) and Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston and one of the lowest in Texas. U.S. News ranked the University among Top Performers on Social Mobility and awarded UHD a No. 1 ranking as the most diverse institution of higher education in the southern region of the U.S. The University is noted nationally as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Minority-Serving Institution, and Military Friendly School. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.