Shane Tatum, associate dean of student services at Troy University, spoke to the Troy Exchange Club about recreational opportunities for students.
Tatum, originally from Ozark, graduated from Troy University in 1997 and went on to work for the Eufaula Parks and Recreation Department. In 2005, Tatum returned to Troy to serve as the university’s director for community recreation.
Tatum said colleges have evolved to the point where students can get just about any major at any university. So, the criteria students look at today, is a lot different that the criteria students used to select a university in the past.
“Students’ main concerns are where am I going to eat, where am I going to sleep and what am I going to do,” Tatum said. “Research has shown that recreation can help with student recruitment. So, we built new dorms, so we could check that box off. Then we built a new dining hall, but we were still lacking one thing.
“We had the natatorium and the Trojan Center and intermurals, but those facilities really needed upgrading. In 2016, we made a presentation to the Student Government Association and asked if we had a $100 recreation fee, would students pay it to fund a bond to construct a new wellness center.”
Tatum said the students voted to add the $100 fee and the university began collecting the fee in 2016. In 2017 the design phase started and construction began in 2018. The facility opened about two years later.
The state-of-the-art center has a regulation high school basketball court and a multi-use court that can be converted for basketball, volleyball, pickle ball, badminton and more. The second floor is a fitness center with computerized fitness equipment, television and internet. The third floor holds an elevated walking trail.
“A lot of students paid that $100 fee knowing they would never be able to use the center,” Tatum said. “But, they had the foresight to see that it would benefit students in the future. When we opened, we were having about 3,500 student visits per week. But, we had to alter our hours of operation during the pandemic and follow social distancing and Centers for Disease Control procedures, so we didn’t have as many students. But, we fully reopened this semester and we’re up to about 4,200 student visits per week.”
Tatum said there are several future projects planned at the university. One is to create a walking trial based on the university’s sidewalk system and to install fitness stations along the trail. He said the university was also looking at adding a Frisbee golf course and had created a partnership with Camp Butter and Egg to provide students with an option for Trojan Adventures.