12 March 2019
The College Consensus published a report to rank the top 50 college recreation centers in the country and gave UCCS a No. 39 ranking.
The College Consensus describes itself as a ranking and review aggregator and publishes reports on various categories.
“With four basketball courts, an indoor track, and nearly 15,000 square feet fitness center [sic], students have plenty of opportunity for indoor recreation,” said the report. According to the report, the most unique features of the UCCS Recreation and Wellness Center are the pool and the SOLE center.
According to College Consensus, the rankings are derived from a variety of factors, and include only colleges that “have achieved national recognition for their recreation programs, including ranking such as Men’s Health, architectural awards, and positive student reviews.”
It is noted that the ranking is not entirely objective, although a great deal of data is used to create each university’s “College Consensus score.”
“The result,” says College Consensus, “is a list of highly regarded schools that also happen to have amazing recreational and wellness facilities on their campuses.”
Skyler Rorabaugh, Director of Campus Recreation, said that he and other rec center staff are happy and excited about the ranking.
“When you’re comparing the top 50 recreation centers across the entire United States,” he said, “we’re pretty happy to be in the top 50. Especially with the size of our university.”
Rorabaugh said that UCCS’ recreation center has never been ranked among the top 50 in the history of the Department of Campus Recreation, and added that a big contributor was likely the additions that were made to the rec center in 2015, particularly to the center’s Health and Wellness Center.
“We’ve never had a [coordinated] wellness component on campus,” Rorabaugh said, speaking of years prior to the 2015 renovations. Prior to the changes, the Student Health Center was located in the office of the Gateway Garage, where the Department of Public Safety is currently located.
The Mental Health Services was once located in Main Hall, and joined the Student Health Center in 2015, creating the campus’ currently united Health and Wellness department, which was then able to triple in size. From that expansion came cooking classes, nutrition courses and group therapy sessions.
The expansions also nearly doubled the size of the recreation facility itself, adding nearly 50,000 square feet of fitness floorspace. Two basketball courts were added, as well as roughly half a million dollars worth of new exercise equipment, according to Rorabaugh.
“We pretty much changed out everything that we had,” Rorabaugh said. “We added a lot of new equipment based off of student feedback.”
Rorabaugh said the entire project was employed with student input from town hall sessions and from student surveys, and was funded entirely by money from the recreation center bond fee and the recreation program fee. Both fees are built into student tuition for each semester.
The bond fee was once $80 per semester for fall and spring, and $40 for summer. But with the onset of the renovations, that fee was doubled.
The recreation program fee has stayed consistent, at $1 per credit hour for each undergraduate course.
Rorabaugh said that, together, these fees fund the facilities, construction, operations and services of the entire Recreation and Wellness Center.
In addition to the rec center itself, the Department of Campus Recreation also manages outdoor recreation facilities.
“Where we rank at nationally for recreation services is in the lower twelfth percentile for outdoor recreation facilities,” Rorabaugh said, adding that “we’re still not where we need to be as a campus,” though it is something that the department hopes to work on in the future.
Current outdoor facilities include Alpine Field and roughly seven miles of trails that run through the Austin Bluffs and Pulpit Rock open spaces north of campus. While most of that land is owned by the city of Colorado Springs, Rorabaugh said that UCCS does own and maintain much of the trail system.
With plans to develop more outdoor facilities, Rorabaugh said the work is not done yet.
“It’s a great reward,” Rorabaugh said of the College Consensus ranking. “It brings along some notoriety, and we’re proud to do that. But we want to move up the list at the same time.”
For those who are interested, the College Consensus report can be accessed online at collegeconsensus.com/rankings.