Transcript: Interview with Chancellor Rebecca Blank

August 27, 2013 at 1:06:35pm

Tara Golshan The Badger Herald

courtesty of the Badger Herald
Click for full article.

BH: John Horne, director of Recreational Sports, said several of our buildings are barely up to state code for safety. Do you think the time is right to be thinking seriously about rebuilding those facilities and I guess, and it might be premature to say, but would you support a referendum to rebuild those?

RB: The real question is not would I support a referendum, but are students willing to move forward on a referendum in terms of some sort of fee thing? It is really clear that we are behind our peers with regards to our recreational facilities. I’ve been in some of the new facilities that a couple of our peer campuses have built. My husband, the first week we were in town, he went to the Natatorium and we went to the [South East Recreational Facility.] And he sort of came back and he said, “Becky, you don’t need to go here.” You know, they were crowded. This is a piece of campus that matters. Participation in fitness activities, sports participation, you know, not only is that sort of good and healthy for students and faculty, but it really helps learning. The research is pretty unambiguous that you want to provide opportunities to make it easy for people to be physically active. Particularly, you know, when they are doing late nights and eating junk food in the dorms, and not that any of you would do that.

So we really have to look at this seriously, at what exactly where this is going to land and how would you put the funding together, how much of it you do through student fees or bonding. Or how much can you go through the state and ask for money, or are there options for private donors? Clearly, that is conversation we have to have.

I think there is no doubt in my mind that at some point over the next few years, we need to be real serious about certainly rehabilitating our existing facilities, to which I mean there are code issues where we will have to close them if we don’t do that, but secondly, if we’re going to do this thinking in a larger sense of what should we have on campus. Rather than just keeping the current facilities operating like they are now with new paint or whatever, you know, isn’t the right way to think. The right way to think is, what’s the recreational mix of facilities we need and how do we go about putting that together. That may be a long-term job, but we ought to have that vision and that master plan in front of us.

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