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Ohio Wesleyan Breaks Ground on New Aquatics, Recreation Center
‘Green’ Building to Feature Geothermal Heating, Cooling with More Than 90 Underground Wells

May 11, 2009

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DELAWARE, OH – Ohio Wesleyan University is diving into its first “green” building project with construction of the 24,300-square-foot Meek Aquatics and Recreation Center.

The university will hold a ceremonial groundbreaking at 4 p.m. Friday, May 15, for the Meek Center, which will be constructed on 8.5 acres on the southwest edge of campus at South Henry and Harrison streets. Instead of using a gold shovel to kick off the approximately $10 million project, Ohio Wesleyan will dig deeper to commemorate this special event.

The university will have an auger, a drilling machine, on site to demonstrate how more than 90 geothermal wells will be dug to create energy to heat and cool the building, as well as heat water for the center’s 25-yard swimming pool.

When completed in fall 2010, the Meek Center will contain a 10-lane pool, a 13-foot-deep diving well, 1-meter and 3-meter diving boards, as well as offices and a seminar room. Just like Ohio Wesleyan’s current natatorium, the Meek Center will be available for public use and will continue to host the Delaware Hayes High School swim team.

The Meek Center is being funded entirely with alumni contributions and grants, including a lead gift of $3.5 million from 1959 OWU graduates Phillip J. and Nancy La Porte Meek of Greenwich, Conn.

The Meeks, who will be on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony, are longtime supporters of Ohio Wesleyan. Past gifts from the couple have been used to establish the Phillip J. and Nancy La Porte Meek Community Leadership and Service Grant Program, to endow chairs in the economics and fine arts departments, and to help endow the directorship of the Richard M. Ross Art Museum.

With the assistance of retired U.S. Rep. David Hobson, a 1958 OWU graduate, the university also has secured two federal grants, totaling $1.1 million, to help fund the geothermal portion of the project. The grants include educational components that will enable Ohio Wesleyan to use the geothermal system as a teaching tool for OWU students and the community. The Meek Center will contain an interior wall of glass to allow visitors to view the earth-friendly energy system at work.

The Meek Center will be Ohio Wesleyan’s first truly “green” building. The university has registered the project with U.S. Green Building Council for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

“This is a wonderful moment for Ohio Wesleyan University and for Delaware,” said Rock Jones, Ph.D., university president. “We are excited to be able to model best practices in sustainable design and environmentally responsible construction with this project, while creating a state-of-the art aquatics center for our students. We are so appreciative of our loyal alumni who continue to give generously to help make great things happen at Ohio Wesleyan University.”

The May 15 groundbreaking ceremony also will recognize the planned construction of Ohio Wesleyan’s new Arthur A. Belt Memorial Walkway, which will be known as the “BELTway.”

Over time, this pedestrian walkway will connect the university’s sports facilities. The BELTway is named in honor of Arthur A. Belt, a 1934 Ohio Wesleyan graduate, Battling Bishop football player, and father of 1963 OWU alumna Patsy Belt Conrades. She and her husband, 1961 OWU graduate George Conrades, are funding construction of the walkway. In 2008, the Boston, Mass., couple donated $6.25 million to the university as seed money to plan and help fund the future construction of a new Branch Rickey Athletics Complex. The Meek Center is the first component of that complex, which also will include a new arena and field house. No timetable has been set for construction of the full complex.

Ohio Wesleyan University is an undergraduate liberal arts college that transforms the lives of its students through a combination of rigorous academics, mentoring relationships, and real-world experiences. Featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” the private university’s 1,850 students come from 47 states and 50 countries. Visit www.owu.edu for more information.