By Jacob Schaperow
The William P. Cole Student Activities Center housed the Army ROTC department and the campus bike shop. Kinesiology classes were held on its field, university staff members took lunchtime walks around the building’s indoor bleachers and intramural soccer teams played there in the evenings. Now, the building, more commonly known as Cole Field House, is being transformed into a $155 million indoor football complex.
For university students, who are indirectly paying for the new facilities through their tuition and taxes, the renovation project’s worth will be measured by the new opportunities it creates.
A sizable amount of the project’s funding – $50 million – comes from the university and the State of Maryland. The project’s proponents tacked on two supplementary facilities to the Cole renovation to sweeten the deal for people who do not find so much intrinsic value in an indoor football practice field. Cole will serve as the headquarters for the Academy of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Center for Sports Medicine, Health & Human Performance.
If these two tie-in projects are to make up for what I believe is a misguided use of university and fundraising dollars, they are going to need investment from the students and university staff that support them.
Students will need to bring their business ideas to the Academy of Innovation and Entrepreneurship if it is to do its job. The academy, in collaboration with the University Career Center, has promised to guarantee every single undergraduate student a $1,000 internship. The academy will not do students any good if students do not actively seek to participate in its programs. The academy’s staff would be well-advised to make an advertising push to reach out to students who want to become entrepreneurs but feel like they are not up to the challenge.
The Center for Sports Medicine, Health & Human Performance, where research will be conducted on athletics-centered subjects such as concussion and traumatic brain injury and muscle-brain physiology, could be another way for the general community to benefit from the renovation. The center will include an orthopedics clinic open to the public, according to Cole Field House’s website. As this university’s first direct evidence that membership in the Big 10 does in fact have academic benefits, the pressure is on for the center to become a research hub for biomedical sciences.
This university has allocated much land to its sports teams. Between Shipley Field, Maryland Stadium and the Kehoe Track Complex across from Regents Garage, varsity-only sport facilities already occupy more space on campus than every university building between Regents Drive and Route 1 combined. When the new Cole Field House opens in 2017, it is my hope that it can truly be a resource for all students, non-athletes included.
Jacob Schaperow is a senior civil engineering – environmental and water resources major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.