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A Fitness Makeover

When it opened its doors in 1983, the Physical Education Center at College of DuPage was at the cutting edge of physical education and athletics facilities among institutions of higher learning, but over the course of 30 years, that edge had begun to dull. The PE Center was in serious need of a makeover.

According to Associate Dean of Physical Education and Athletics Director Paul Zakowski, a primary challenge stemmed from balancing the four components of the center: academic programs, athletics, the professional fitness center and community rental services.

“The facilities here were comparable to those I had seen at four-year schools,” Zakowski said. “They served us well, but there were certain limitations in the original design that had become increasingly challenging. In the old building, there were overlap issues between the various components of the center and it was nearly impossible to separate the assorted activities.”

The result of a referendum approved by District 502 voters in November 2010, the much-needed renovation of the PE center includes a dramatic transformation of the south entrance into a more visible and inviting main entrance that includes a lobby and a concession area, the 11,000-square-foot Chaparral Fitness Club featuring cutting-edge exercise equipment, stretching and cardio spaces, and new monitors and sound system throughout. A new 14,000 square-foot Varsity Athletic addition on the south side of the center houses facilities for student athletes, including men’s and women’s locker rooms, a strength lab and a training room.

Of course, a project of this size doesn’t come together easily.

Zakowski, who credits the success of the renovation to a great team effort by the staff, faculty, President Dr. Robert L. Breuder and the architects, said that through the planning stages there needed to be a primary focus or “deciding factor” to aid in decision-making.

“When it came time to decide on what we needed with the renovated facilities, we prioritized education as the core component of the facility,” said Zakowski. “We used that as our guide along the way. When any choice needed to be made, we put academics first.”

According to Earl Dowling, Vice President of Student Affairs, the renovation of the PE Center is intended not only to meet a significant need for updated facilities in the 30-year-old center, but also to more effectively engage students and student athletes, as well as faculty and members of the community in terms of health and fitness.

“The College has done a great job addressing at a high level the needs of the students and the community on every front—academically, financially and culturally, but there was another component that we wanted to tackle—their health and well-being. The new PE Center will provide that missing piece.”

Dowling added that in addition to providing a greatly enhanced learning environment with access to cutting edge facilities and equipment, the state-of-the-art Chaparral Fitness Club will serve to complete the aesthetics on the east side of the campus.

“We have fine dining and the theater and now we’ve added a state-of-the-art fitness center,” he said. “College of DuPage has been very successful at combining the academic and the co-curricular to provide a total student experience that rivals many four-year schools.”

The completion of the PEC marks a new era for COD. Since 2009, the College has overseen the tremendous transformation of its Glen Ellyn campus, including new buildings and renovations to nearly all pre-existing facilities. By 2015, every building on the campus will have either been recently renovated or newly constructed.

At top: Choctaw Taylor works out in the new 11,000-square-foot Chaparral Fitness Club, just part of the renovation of the Physical Education Center (PEC)Photo by Terence Guider-Shaw/special to College of DuPage


Contact Information

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College of DuPage
425 Fawell Boulevard
Glen Ellyn IL 60137

College of DuPage

425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn IL, 60137

(630) 942-2800 (Main)

(630) 942-3000 (Student Services)

  2017 College of DuPage