SMUooth Moves

At Expanded Dedman Center, Getting In Shape Never Felt So Good

Photographs By Hillsman S. Jackson

At 5 p.m. most weekdays, Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports hums at its peak of activity – with hundreds of bodies running, swimming, weightlifting, spinning, playing basketball and racquetball, rock climbing, puffing on treadmills and punching the bags. Students, but also many faculty and staff, begin pouring into the facility the minute it opens at 6 a.m. and keep the place hopping until it closes at midnight. Weekends also see their fair share of users, although fewer. For a typical week in September, the daily number of visitors ranged from 800 to 2,300.

Built in 1976, Dedman Center re-opened in phases in 2005-06 after undergoing a $25 million expansion and renovation. It was funded through a student-led initiative supporting an additional 1-1/2 percent increase in tuition and fees in fall 2003 and 2004. Several donors also provided funding for the construction and renovation. Dedman Center now offers 170,000 square feet of indoor recreational space plus an outdoor area that includes The Falls (zero-entry pool with 7-foot waterfalls), two sand volleyball courts and leisure spaces.

The center enhances campus life and enables SMU to uphold its commitment to excellence in all aspects of the collegiate experience.

Judith Banes (’69, ’78), executive director of recreational sports, says she was forewarned by some of SMU’s peer institutions to expect usage to triple once the center became fully operational in 2006, and it has.

"The expanded Dedman Center serves as a positive meeting place for making new friends, relieving stress and achieving potential mentally and physically," Banes says. "The center enhances campus life and enables SMU to uphold its commitment to excellence in all aspects of the collegiate experience."

Increasingly, prospective students assess fitness resources in choosing a college. Nathan Fine, a first-year student from Japan (above, lifting weights), was undecided about his major, but "the Dedman Center greatly influenced my decision to come to SMU," he says. "Its facilities are better than any other university I visited. The center offers me a place to break away from studying."

SMU alumni also can use the facilities at Dedman Center for an annual membership fee.

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