The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

November 5, 2009

A healthy addition | UPJ building Wellness Center on campus

Excitement is in the air with Pitt-Johnstown’s latest plans to expand at its 655-acre campus.

And that exhilaration extends well beyond the boundaries of this education jewel in Richland Township. It’s good news the whole community can celebrate.

Ground is scheduled to be broken on Tuesday for a $9.7 million Wellness Center. Completion is expected in early 2011.

Included in the 40,000-square-foot complex will be a multipurpose gym, running track, fitness center and climbing wall.

An outdoor wellness park also is planned.

Sounds wonderful.

“It will provide our students with much-needed fitness and recreational space and will help to advance our efforts to create a healthier campus,” UPJ President Jem Spectar said in a statement issued last Friday.

We urge the university to also consider opening at least portions of the complex for public use. Millions of area dollars have gone into developing this campus, which will now include 36 buildings.

That would also seem to be a good fit with Spectar’s vow to break down any barriers, real or imagined, between the university and its surounding communities.

Last week’s announcement wasn’t unexpected. A Wellness Center was included in 2007 when University of Pittsburgh officials unveiled a 12-year plan for the school’s main campus and its four branch campuses. Last Friday, the go-ahead came from the main campus in Oakland.

No one should be surprised that expansion continues at UPJ, even in tough economic times.

Applications for enrollment remain pleasantly high.

And why not? The university has much to offer its students; most importantly an education second to none and standards that continue to receive national magazine ranking.

Anyone old enough to remember the 1960s and the excitement as Pitt-Johnstown moved from its old schoolhouse building in Johnstown’s Moxham section to its new, beautiful and expansive Richland campus can’t help but smile as this gem grows – perhaps well beyond the original dreams.

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