Enthusiasm, excitement mark grand opening of new Recreation and Wellness Center

With a ceremonial ribbon cut from oversized shears, Quinnipiac President Judy Olian and invited dignitaries officially marked the grand opening of the university’s completed Recreation and Wellness Center on Friday, January 27, ushering in a new era of health and wellness for students, faculty and staff.

The event drew an audience of faculty and staff, members of the Quinnipiac Board of Trustees, partners from Hartford HealthCare, project partners, State Sen. Paul Cicarella and other friends from the local community.

“This opening is not just about a facility, certainly a glorious facility. It also signifies the official launch of our comprehensive wellness ecosystem at Quinnipiac,” said Olian. “Our Rec and Wellness Center started with Pillar 3 of our Strategic Plan, which commits to nurturing and positively impacting community. It’s this focus on educating the whole person that is core to how we’re developing the workforce of tomorrow – graduates with both the IQ and the EQ, the life readiness to be successful professionals, and to lead fulfilling lives.”

The Recreation and Wellness Center is the first major completion of the “Designing our Future” master facilities plan, unveiled in January 2021, providing a comprehensive strategy and set of recommendations. Construction has recently begun on the next major phase, the South Quad, consisting of a new residence hall and two new academic buildings.


New facility embodies community partnerships

The thoughtfully designed facility underscores the university’s commitment to educating the whole person: body, mind and spirit. Of the new 60,000-square-foot space, 15,000 is dedicated to health and counseling, offering a full suite of counseling and healthcare services through Quinnipiac’s partnership with Hartford HealthCare. Nearly 100,000 square feet remain from the attached Athletic and Recreation Center.

During her remarks, Olian highlighted the strategic partnership between Hartford HealthCare and Quinnipiac, and noted that at the core of the partnership is the well-being of the student community.

“This partnership gives our students a readiness edge, professionally, when they enter the workforce because of the many opportunities to develop professional skills across the spectrum of fields,” said Olian. “Hartford HealthCare’s expertise and bench depth greatly enhance the range of on-campus health services we are able to offer our students. It builds on a collaborative, coordinated healthcare model that offers access to student wellness, mental health, athletic training, illness prevention strategies and daily prescription delivery — truly world-class care and services for our students.”
Jeff Flaks addresses the audience from the podium at the Recreation and Wellness Center Opening

Hartford HealthCare President Jeffrey A. Flaks echoed Olian’s sentiment as he addressed the audience with his remarks that underscored the importance and benefits of the partnership. 

“I really want to bring attention today to the leadership, from the Board to the President to the entire team who is here today. Because when this team imagined this center, and they brought us in, it wasn’t just the innovation and the big thinking, but it was the personal advocacy of the health and wellbeing of the entire community,” said Flaks. “When we think about what is being created here, this is just the beginning. There are so many great ideas that are emerging. And Quinnipiac has created the capability to take the resources of our organization and bring them here to this campus. And our resources are your resources. We feel so privileged to be a part of this community."

During her remarks, Olian also thanked the many people who supported the project and helped to make it a reality, including the entire Board of Trustees and specifically Trustee Marybeth Noonan ’82, who was a tireless advocate for the need for these services. She also expressed gratitude to the architects and construction partners in attendance, including Nicholas Berube of Payette, Salvatore Canciello and Steve Fellmeth of S3 Design, Mike Lockwood of FIP Construction, and Robert Miklos of designLAB Architects.

Robert Potter grins while standing at the podium in the Recreation and Wellness Center lobby

Board Trustee Robert Potter ’91 spoke about the infusion of technology into the design of the facility, the leadership propelling Quinnipiac’s mission, and the importance of prioritizing health and wellness, before joking that he wanted to reenroll as a Quinnipiac student just to be able to access the center on a daily basis.

“These types of things don’t just happen without the right type of leadership. As you look at this facility and the expansion on this campus, it’s leadership that Judy has brought to this university, it’s why the board embraces her and supports everything she brings to us and the team that she has put together for all of you,” said Potter. “Wellness is important. This type of facility begins that process. Your health, whether physical, mental or how you participate with your friends, I can’t tell you how important that is in alignment with what you’re going to do with your career. Use this facility, tell people about it, and don’t wait until you leave Quinnipiac to participate in Quinnipiac.” 


Celebrations kick off spring semester

As a part of the grand opening celebration, the university also hosted a student-focused open house, RecWell After Dark, on Thursday, January 26. This special event highlighted the amenities and community atmosphere of the facility with free food, T-shirts, an On the Rocks Pub and Grill preview of the demo kitchen, and student-organized games and activities utilizing the new equipment and space. The events helped to cap off the first week of the Spring semester with a reminder to the community to make health and wellness a top priority.

Tom Ellett addresses hundreds of people during the RecWell Grand Opening

“It gives me great joy and pleasure to welcome you to Quinnipiac’s completely reimagined Recreation and Wellness Center,” said Chief Experience Officer Tom Ellett, during his ribbon-cutting opening remarks. “This beautiful building and adjacent amphitheater are far more than brick and mortar. They are representative of our vision to prepare our students for success. This facility contains more than weights or workout machines, it’s the key to a new worldview.”  Ellett highlighted how the new spaces will strengthen bodies and minds through programming focused on the eight dimensions of the ecosystem of wellness: social, financial, emotional, physical, spiritual, environmental, educational and occupational. It is this comprehensive and inclusive approach that will drive programming designed to develop well-rounded students, faculty and staff.


New programming highlights space, equipment

Director of Fitness and Well Being Tami Reilly has been instrumental in organizing a variety of recreation activities and campus wellness initiatives as well as acquiring the latest in fitness tech products that will benefit the entire Quinnipiac community. 

“The Rec and Wellness Center will include high-tech equipment such as the brand-new Spinner® Chrono Power Bikes. The bikes are 25 of the first 300 to hit the U.S. so we are excited to be one of the first users to have them,” said Reilly. “The bike and the software we are using, Spivi, will enable the user to capture their metrics from each ride to track their progress, watch for improvements and motivate them to keep coming back for more.”

A student does an arm exercise using a weight machine

In addition, Reilly has helped to spearhead the launch of a Small Group Training program using battle ropes, sandbags and tire flips in a small group environment overseen by a coach for personal feedback and mentoring in the functional training area. There will be 16 classes held during the week.

In the Breathing Room yoga studio, new props have been added to help students relax including bolsters, meditation cushions and eye pillows, while in Studio Strong, students will have access to new gym equipment to enhance exercise classes such as kettlebells, Bosu balls and barbell systems. These are just a sampling of the many resources available in the Recreation and Wellness Center.


Building design reflects campus community

Students use cardio equipment in an area with natural light and a living green wall

Aesthetically, the building evokes a sense of calm and well-being by incorporating the natural surroundings of the campus into its interior design. Organic elements are found throughout the design including natural wood, stone, living green walls, and illustrated wall art highlighting the Quinnipiac River, trail and topography of Sleeping Giant State Park.

The Recreation and Wellness Center became a reality through the input and collaboration among key stakeholders such as Quinnipiac’s facilities and capital planning team led by Vice President Sal Filardi, Vice President and Dean of Students Monique Drucker, the Office of Student Affairs, Public Safety, IT staff and partners and the university’s rec and wellness teams.

“It’s amazing to see the concepts that we had in our head three years ago come to fruition,” said Mike Medina, MBA ’10, director of recreation. “In addition to elevating the opportunities for students to be able to take care of themselves, the goal of this space is to make sure that we are meeting the needs of our community, while also creating new connection points for our students with faculty and staff members. This is a facility our students will be able to utilize throughout their entire Quinnipiac career.”

Owenea Roberts smiles as she speaks at a podium during the RecWell opening

Before the ribbon could fall on the formal grand opening ceremony, students were already utilizing the facilities and welcoming the newest addition to campus with enthusiasm and appreciation. During the ceremony, Student Government Association President Owenea Roberts thanked university leadership for soliciting student input and suggestions in the design and creation of the new facility.

“This is a monumental moment in Quinnipiac history,” said Roberts. “The facilities offered here are an excellent example of how our Board of Trustees and university leadership not only care about our future, but also care out our well-being. From nutrition consultation to fitness classes to the climbing wall, there is something for all members of our community.”


Stay in the Loop

Sign Up Now