Earlier this week, the University of Georgia System Board of Regents approved construction of the $38.7 million Dr. Betty L. Siegel Student Recreation and Activities Center. The 176,000-square-foot facility, an expansion of an existing 55,000-square-foot recreation center, will be named for Siegel, who served as KSU president from 1981 until 2006.
“Most of the existing one is going to be renovated, and the rest is going to be built around it,” KSU spokesman Robert Godlewski said.
Construction on the new recreation center is expected to begin in early 2013 and looks to be completed in time for the fall 2014 semester. KSU Vice President for Student Success Jerome Ratchford said that naming the building for Siegel was a “collective” idea in line with honoring Siegel’s philosophy of helping students in ways other than just inside the classroom.
“It will enhance our recruitment,” Ratchford said. “It will enhance our retention of students.”
Ratchford said the facility at the campus of 24,100 will serve as a place that will make students feel more like they are at home.
“It will compare very, very favorably, if not in a superior capability, to what other schools have,” he said.
The recreation center will include two swimming pools — one indoor competition pool and one outdoor leisure pool — along with one outdoor and four indoor basketball courts, a weight training area, eight tennis courts, a rock climbing wall, an indoor track and a “multi-activity court” large enough to host indoor soccer play. It will also include racquetball and sand volleyball courts.
Siegel was the first woman to lead a University System of Georgia institution, overseeing KSU’s growth from a campus of 4,000 students offering 15 undergraduate degrees to an 18,000-student university with 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Since her retirement in 2006, Siegel started a nonprofit foundation for global ethical leadership. In March, she was presented with the Elridge McMillan Award by the University System of Georgia Foundation for her lifetime work in support of higher education.
Siegel was out of the office and could not be reached for comment Thursday. In a statement, she said, “I am deeply honored to have this new facility named for me. For the 25 years I served as president of KSU, I enjoyed the unwavering support of family, the students, staff and administration of KSU, and this extraordinary community. I share this moment with them all.”