Huntington University Plans $13.1 Million Expansion
The Huntington University Board of Trustees has approved a $13.1 million project that will transform the Merillat Complex & Fieldhouse (PLEX) into a best-in-class athletics complex, adding a third additional performance gym, updating Platt Arena, creating new training and wellness spaces and recreating the lobby footprint. The vote and its subsequent approval took place prior to the spring board meeting on April 15-16, 2021.
Originally part of the Step Forward Comprehensive Campaign, the transformation of the PLEX became a popular area of engagement for donors and friends. This created the space for HU to rethink the scope of the PLEX project, expanding it from its original $4.6 million investment to a significantly larger investment that will impact the entire campus community.
“Through extended conversations with University athletic staff and students, alumni and community members, it became clear the importance of this project to many of our constituents. This will be the largest campus expansion project since the completion of Dowden Science Hall in 2005,” said Dr. Sherilyn Emberton, president of Huntington University. “The Forester athletic program has grown to nearly 300 student-athletes and competes in 18 NAIA programs. The expansion of the existing health and wellness facility meets current as well as anticipates future needs for students at Huntington University at the Huntington, Indiana, location."
Herb Schumm, the chairman of the board, showed his support for the decision, pointing out the 32 percent increase in HU’s student-athletes in the past decade.
“I think the growth of our athletic programs and success of our student-athletes necessitates the expansion of the PLEX,” he said.
In addition, the April board meeting included the approval of a $40 million operating budget for 2021-2022. This represents a 5 percent increase of last year’s financials, which is the result of record enrollment for 2020-2021 and increased donor participation in Step Forward.
Additionally, the board voted on and granted tenure to Dr. Fred Miller, professor of exercise science, and Dr. Nathan Short, associate professor of occupational therapy, and bestowed the title of professor emeritus on Dr. Jerry Davis, professor of clinical mental health counseling, who will be retiring at the end of this academic year.
The board also welcomed Dr. Sue Miller as a new Trustee to serve a four-year term. Miller has spent over 50 years developing restaurants and resort campuses that feature Amish and Mennonite hospitality. Her family currently operates resorts in Middlebury, Indiana, Sarasota, Florida, and five locations in Ohio, with approximately 2,000 employees.