Grand opening showcases Steve Clark YMCA and Student Wellness Center


Kylie Cameron

Wichita State President Jay Golden does the YMCA dance at the grand opening of the Steve Clark YMCA and Student Wellness Center on Tuesday, Jan. 21.

The two-story, 77,000-square-foot Steve Clark YMCA and Student Wellness Center had its grand opening Tuesday afternoon on Innovation Campus.

The $18 million facility is named after the former Greater Wichita YMCA president and Wichita State alumnus who chaired the capital campaign for the campus facility, as well as each of the university’s last two presidential searches.

During his remarks Tuesday, Clark invoked the Y’s four core principles — respect, responsibility, caring, and honesty.

“If we could impart some of those values to just a few of the thousands and thousands of people that will end up using this YMCA, well, I think we can say to ourselves, ‘We’ve done a very good thing,’” Clark said.

Student Body President Kitrina Miller said the partnership between WSU and Y presents a number of exciting opportunities.

“Throughout my college career, I have had the opportunity to watch this building come to fruition, and I truly believe that this wellness center will be able to promote a more holistic approach to health and wellness, provide more applied learning opportunities for our students here at Wichita State, and strengthen WSU’s relationship with our Wichita community,” Miller said.

For a sixth semester, WSU students are paying a tiered Health and Wellness fee to fund the operating costs of the YMCA. A student receiving in-state tuition and taking 15 credit hours a semester now pays $190 a year for the Health and Wellness Fee. All fee-paying students are automatically Y members.

Senior electronic media major Morgan Cusick said she has been working out at the new facility consistently since it started operating on full-time hours last week.

“Take advantage of this building and the opportunities that come along with it because first of all, we’re paying for it, and second of all, your health and your mental health is really important, and this is a good way to maintain that,” Cusick said.

Even though he just relocated to Wichita, new University President Jay Golden said he has already signed up to be a Y member.

“I always wanted to do this, but since we’re here, Y-M-C-A,” Golden joked, breaking into the Village People’s iconic dance to much laughter from the audience.

“I have already said that student experience is my top priority as president of this institution, and this facility — I mean, it’s everything we want as far as the students,” Golden said. “An opportunity to put mind and body at ease and to really have a place where we can get together with the community.”

Golden also characterized the facility as a key recruiting asset for the university.

“This is now destination number one on our student recruitment tours,” he said.

Although WSU students are Y members, they will be subject to a $25 ticket if they park in the lot outside the new facility from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, during which time the lot is reserved for community members. University officials are quick to note that students have access to university parking within a three-minute walk of the Y.

Senior strategic communications major Madison Harris said she’s most excited for the classes the Y will offer, which she says fit into her schedule well.

“It’s nice to have a place on campus that we can come to work out and not have to drive all over Wichita to get to,” Harris said.

She said she was not a Y member before becoming a student, and she has never worked out in the Heskett Center, WSU’s existing 166,000-square-foot facility.

The new Y has similar amenities to the other greater Wichita facilities, minus a swimming pool. However, Y members who wish to swim can do so at the Heskett Center at no cost.

Y traffic is gauged by the number of card swipes at the front desk. Branch Director George Sorensen said that on Monday, the Y had a “great showing” of more than 900 swipes.

Sorensen said the Y is still filling a number of staff positions but that he expects to employ between 15 and 20 students.

“We have already started to employ some students,” he said. “As a matter of fact, we’ve got some in our personal training, we’ve got some in our kid zone, we’ve got some at our front desk and in housekeeping, so we have some just about in every department.”