GRAND FORKS, ND — The University of North Dakota (UND) celebrated the grand opening of its new Student Wellness Center in late September, but plans are already underway for the addition of a natatorium.

The $19.7 million center, located at the university's main campus in Grand Forks, ND, replaces a smaller facility.

“It will be an incredible recruiting tool,” says Laurie Betting, assistant vice president for wellness in the division of student and outreach services at UND.

The two-story, 107,606-square-foot center dwarfs the school's original facility, which consisted of less than 6,000 square feet. Betting anticipates that the center will serve 3,000 students, a three-fold increase over the previous facility's 1,000 students.

“There were lines to get on cardio equipment and for group classes,” she says. “We installed a Web camera just to allow students to see how busy it was, whether or not they even wanted to bother coming over.”

The building not only will enhance the university's recruiting and retention efforts, but it also will provide students with the mechanism and environment in which to adopt healthy behaviors for years to come, says Chris Chivetta, president of Hastings and Chivetta Architects Inc., who designed the new center.

“The university approached this project from the unique perspective of providing wellness facilities,” Chivetta says. “The facility has incorporated elements that support the total person — mind, body and spirit.”

Fundraising for a new pool at the center has already begun, and officials plan to have it built within five years, Betting says.