Indiana University Kokomo

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Dedication of the Milt and Jean Cole Family Wellness and Fitness Center
Remarks of Michael A. McRobbie
Indiana University
Kresge Auditorium
IU Kokomo Library
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
11:30 a.m.


Milt and Jean Cole Family Wellness and Fitness Center Dedication and Naming CeremonyIU President Michael A. McRobbie accepts the key to the Milt and Jean Cole Family Fitness and Wellness Center. See more photos.Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, then director-general of the World Health Organization, wrote in the 2002 World Health Report that "reducing risks to health ...has been a preoccupation of people and their physicians and politicians throughout history. It can be traced back at least 5,000 years to some of the world's earliest civilizations. But it has never been more relevant than it is today."

More than a decade later, the health risks associated with wealthy societies as described in that comprehensive report—such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, and physical inactivity—have become of even greater concern in the United States, the state of Indiana, and across Indiana University, and initiatives and policies to address them continue to grow.

Today, we dedicate the Milt and Jean Cole Family Wellness and Fitness Center as yet a further initiative at Indiana University to help address these risks to individual health and the declining measures of public health in our state. The center will enable faculty, students, and staff to take more responsibility for their physical well-being, thus helping to moderate the cost of healthcare, and, more generally, it will help improve the well-being of the IU Kokomo community. Moreover, this center is indicative of IU's commitment to build and improve facilities dedicated to fitness and wellness on all of IU's campuses, and hence help address the serious public health challenges facing the state.


Unfortunately, the most recent studies show that Indiana continues to rank poorly among all states in measures of the leading causes of illness and death as well as measures of the determinants of health.

Indiana has the 7th highest smoking rate in the U.S. The percentage of adults who have had a heart attack and the percentage of adults with high cholesterol are the 6th and 17th highest in the country, respectively. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks Indiana as the 8th most obese state—up from 11th five years ago. Indiana is also one of the least funded states in terms of federal public health funding.

These very poor measures have a human cost in lives cut short and families devastated by loss. They also have an economic cost in lost productivity and spiraling health care costs. In fact, employers also are increasingly looking at public health measures in states when considering where to locate. A healthier community means lower health care costs for both employers and employees.

The continuing declines we see in many of these public health measures lend a sense of urgency to our efforts to address the underlying problems.


Indiana University has launched a major effort to address these problems that face the state and nation through the establishment of two new schools of public health. About a year ago, we inaugurated the Fairbanks School of Public Health on the IUPUI campus, and the School of Public Health at IU Bloomington.

These two new schools have as their central missions the improvement of public health by conducting research of the highest quality and by educating the next generation of public health professionals.

They are also contributing to the state's economic development through the promotion of a healthier workforce and the containment of rapidly increasing employer health care costs. We now spend over $200 million a year on health care as a university. To put this in perspective, this is more than five times the total budget of IU Kokomo!


Many of IU's regional campuses, of course, have programs in similar areas to these schools, including the Division of Allied Health Sciences here at IU Kokomo. And it is the invaluable contributions like these that campuses like IU Kokomo make to their regions that underscores again the great and continuing importance of IU's regional campuses to the State of Indiana.

They are invaluable community resources that serve a broad spectrum of students, and they are increasingly a first choice for some of the best and brightest high school students in Indiana, as can be seen in the large gains in the number of students earning Indiana Academic Honors degrees from their high schools and those being named 21st Century Scholars by the state.

Over the past several years, our Trustees have taken a number of steps to strengthen the breadth and rigor of the academic quality of our regional campuses. We have added degree programs across the state focusing on the needs of the regions the campuses serve, and we have taken strong steps through our Blueprint for Student Attainment initiative—led so ably by Executive Vice President for University Academic Affairs, John Applegate—to further integrate the regional campuses more broadly into Indiana University.

The regional campuses collectively enroll about one-third of all IU students. They provide an outstanding education to 40,000 students a year, most of them Hoosiers. Many of them are also first generation and non-traditional students. Our regional campuses, all of which have seen their enrollments increase to record levels in recent years, also serve as invaluable economic and community development catalysts in their regions and are playing a key role in helping the state achieve its goal of dramatically increasing the number of Indiana residents with college degrees.

The members of IU's regional campus communities should take great pride in the service they provide to our students and their communities. Likewise, your success is a great source of pride for all of us at Indiana University.

The history of IU's regional campuses is a history of leadership and partnership across the university and across the state. Countless faculty, administrators, staff, and students transformed this campus into what it is today. They helped build an intellectual community that is a vital part of this civic community.

Kokomo is a city that has always believed in the power of education. IU's teaching presence in Kokomo dates back to 1920 when a visiting professor from IU Bloomington travelled to Kokomo to teach classes through IU's Extension Division. This division—and IU's extension centers—ultimately became the regional campuses we know today.


Of course, we are here today because of the generosity of a family whose members share the belief that this campus and the members of the community that comprise it should be nurtured and sustained.

On behalf of Indiana University, I would like to express how deeply grateful we are to Milt and Jean Cole—as well all of the members of the Cole family who are here today—for their extraordinary generosity.

The family's gift of $1.25 million for the construction of this center is the largest cash gift ever received on the Kokomo campus.

Their generosity is testament to the true strength of this great institution. It will leave an indelible mark on the Kokomo campus, and it will touch the lives of countless students, faculty, and staff for many years to come.

I also want to commend Interim Chancellor Sciame-Giesecke for her tireless advocacy of this project and, more generally, for her leadership of IU Kokomo during this time of transition. We greatly appreciate her service.


The late Joan Whaley Gallup, an architect who consulted with major healthcare institutions on the design and programming of healthcare facilities and wellness centers, wrote that "on a global level, it is vital for every community to make the health of citizens the number one priority. Healthier people," she wrote, "will have a better quality of life, will be able to contribute positively to the arts, to culture, to science, and will be empowered as a more productive work force."

Ultimately, the Milt and Jean Cole Family Wellness and Fitness Center will do just that.

As we dedicate this striking and impressive center, we demonstrate our commitment to the health of the members of the IU Kokomo community. May all who use it realize improved health, a better quality of life, and may it allow you all to contribute ever more positively and productively to the vibrant academic and cultural life of Indiana University Kokomo.

Thank you very much.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Come learn about Indiana University Kokomo's technology resources, play a game on a big-screen monitor, and enjoy a free walking taco, all at the annual New to IT@IU Tech Expo.

New to IT@IU FairA student checks out new technology at the New to IT@IU Tech Expo in 2012.

Students, faculty, and staff are invited to visit with vendors and learn the ins and outs of using campus technology during the event, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, September 24, in Alumni Hall.

"This is especially a great opportunity for new students to learn about the resources we have on campus, to get them connected and keep them connected," said Kathy Kennedy, interim campus web manager.

The first 100 students who engage with at least five vendors will receive free T-shirts. Vendors include Dell, AT&T, UITS-Kokomo IT Training, the IU Kokomo Internet radio club, the new media academic club, the library, Verizon, Lenovo, and CDWG.

There will also be battle gaming demonstrations on three large monitors, featuring Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, and Ouya, and a gadgets showcase featuring Google glass.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Religious beliefs of the candidates play a key role in presidential elections. From concerns about electing John F. Kennedy as the first Catholic president, to questions about Mitt Romney's Mormon faith, Americans have considered how those beliefs may impact a president.

David L. HolmesDavid L. Holmes

Indiana University Kokomo will host noted author David L. Holmes to discuss these issues, which he also writes about in his new book, Faiths of the Postwar Presidents, in a free political science and history forum Wednesday, September 25.

Andrew McFarland, associate professor of history, said how a president's beliefs guide him in the job has been a great topic of discussion for many years, especially in the most recent elections.

"We thought this topic was a good fit and would be of interest to our campus and community," he said. "There is so much discussion today about the role of religion in politics, and a great deal of debate about the separation of church and state."

The presentation is from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in the Kelley Student Center, Room 130. It is open to the public, and free parking is available. Books may be purchased in the campus bookstore during regular hours, and Holmes will sign copies starting at 5 p.m.

The IU Kokomo campus bookstore is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. — A long-desired dream comes true for Indiana University Kokomo students, with the opening of the Milt and Jean Cole Family Fitness and Wellness Center.

Milt and Jean Cole Family Wellness and Fitness Center Dedication and Naming CeremonyIU President Michael McRobbie, First Lady Laurie Burns McRobbie, Cole family - Milt, Jean, Carmella, Brittany, Keith, Candy, Tori, Randy - and Interim Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke. See more pictures on Flickr.For years, students asked for a place to exercise on campus, to be with their friends, to build their community. They said a fitness center is an essential part of the college life experience, the key missing piece on campus.

Wednesday (September 18), IU President Michael A. McRobbie officially dedicated and named the Cole Fitness Center, celebrating its opening with the campus community and honoring the generosity of the Cole family.

Milt and Jean Cole and their family, owners of Cole Hardwood Inc., Logansport, gave $1.25 million for the fitness center, the largest cash gift in campus history.

Milt and Jean each spoke during the ceremony about their dedication to philanthropy, urging those attending to get involved.

"I do believe this center has created excitement here in Kokomo," Milt said. "It has elevated the positive energy. The iron is hot; it's time to strike. I encourage everyone to get behind the movement. It's a golden opportunity to get something done in Kokomo."

Jean thanked friends and family who came for the dedication, saying it touched her to see so many attending. She hoped students did not just see them as people who could give a donation, but would learn from and follow their example. She pointed out her sons and daughters-in-law, Randy and Candy Cole, and Keith and Carmella Cole, and their grandchildren, seated in the front row, saying they all learned to work and to be generous.

"What mother could dream of a better life lesson of giving, that Milt and I can pass on to our children, and they can pass on to their children," she said. "Life is nothing but choices, and saying yes, and walking through doors."

As an exercise science and nutrition student, Tara Lees is grateful for the chance not only to work out in the fitness center, but also to take classes in it and to have a job there.

"I thank the Cole family for being so generous and giving us this opportunity to expand our college experience," she said. "It's nice to have hands-on learning experiences, rather than just watching a video or reading a book. Having a fitness center here makes so much more possible for our program, and it gives students a chance to live a healthier lifestyle."

Kelley Baer, a radiography student from Kokomo, said it means a lot to students to have a high quality, attractive, convenient, place to exercise on campus.

"We are so grateful to the Coles," she said. "This is a gift that is going to keep on giving for many years."

Most excited about having a nice place to shower and change after running, Joanna Davis, Westfield, a student in the radiography program, looks forward to running on the fitness center track during the winter.

"I hope the Coles know how much this means to all of us," she said. "You feel better when you exercise before or after your classes. We're so happy to finally have this center."

Since the Cole Fitness Center opened in August, it has been a hub of activity. Students, along with faculty and staff, flocked to join and started walking on the track and treadmills, lifting weights in the strength training area, and performing reps on the machines. The athletes exercise there as well, doing yoga and participating in core training.

The Cole Fitness Center is in the lower level of the library, in space formerly used for storage. When architect Rick Dalhstrom Jr., from MSKTD & Associates, first saw what was called the "rock room," it was essentially concrete walls and a gravel floor, with no light.

"I had a hard time imagining it as a fitness center initially," he said. He worked with interior designer Amber Kolkman to choose the right lighting, colors, and ceilings to create a vibrant, inviting space.

Kolkman designed the Cole Fitness Center with an industrial feel, as a nod to Kokomo's long manufacturing history. Varying ceiling heights and bright blue and green walls provide an energetic vibe, achieving her goal of making you forget you are in a basement.

"It's inviting and energetic, and encourages people to come work out," Kolkman said.

Myles Hattabaugh, a junior computer information technology student from Kokomo, thinks the center will bring more students to IU Kokomo. He exercises there four or more times weekly.

"It's really nice," he said. "They have a lot of equipment for a lot of people. The quantity and quality of everything is really good. I like being able to work out around my class schedule."

Hannah Gray, a junior computer information technology major, likes being able to exercise at school, rather than having to drive home to Noblesville.

"I like that the center has a lot for girls and guys both, not just a lot of weights," she said. "I like the variety of the equipment here, and that it is for all students, not just the athletes."

Nursing student Taylor Backes, Carmel, exercises in the fitness center every time she is on campus and understands the importance of maintaining good physical health.

"Health and healthy living is an integral part of nursing," she said. "Having the center here supports that. It is a great addition to our campus. It's a great way to relieve a little stress and take a break between classes."

Interim Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke said the Coles are long-term benefactors to the campus, starting with a leadership gift for the library in 1992. They also provided the wood for the stage floor in Kresge Auditorium, where the dedication ceremony took place, and supported an endowment for science equipment.

"To know them is to know generosity, coupled with humility," she said.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.