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Charles Koch Arena expansion fundraising reaches halfway mark

Students studying
Track athletes Jenny Pinkston and Tate Annis, both seniors, study in the Downing Academic Learning Center in Charles Koch Arena.

When student-athletes at Wichita State crammed for finals this past spring, many did so in a study hall in Charles Koch Arena built for about half as many students who use it today.

That study hall, called the Downing Academic Learning Center, was created as part of the Roundhouse Renaissance, a fundraising effort led by the WSU Foundation and WSU Athletics to renovate and expand the arena. The successful $25 million campaign ended in 2003.

Now, a new campaign is underway to allow Koch Arena to keep pace with the growth of athletics. Interim Athletic Director Darron Boatright says more than half of the $12 million fundraising goal has been pledged by corporations and WSU alumni and friends.

“They recognize the tremendous impact our sports programs have on the university and community as a whole,” Boatright said. “They also support our primary goal, which is to make sure every student in our programs has an outstanding experience, academically and athletically.”

The Koch Arena project focuses on two major areas: the creation of a new Student-Athlete Success Center and the renovation of office space inside Koch. The 48,000-square-foot Success Center, to be built just south of the arena, will include a large study hall and tutoring rooms as well as a strength and conditioning center and student lounge.

Inside Koch Arena, cramped and well-worn office space will be reorganized and updated to make it more welcoming, functional and inspiring.

Since the Roundhouse Renaissance concluded, the number of student-athletes at Wichita State has grown by nearly 40 percent. Services and programs targeted at student-athletes also have grown, as has the number of coaches and support staff.

Jenny Pinkston and Tate Annis are track and field athletes who welcome the renovation and expansion.

“The new student center will have a study area that is quiet and isolated, away from the kind of foot traffic that this center has,” says Pinkston, a senior majoring in exercise science and math.

Annis, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, said the improvements are needed to help recruit students to WSU.

“Many students coming from high school are attracted by a modern and sophisticated environment,” he said. “This will help give Wichita State a competitive edge in recruiting the best athletes.”

Construction will begin once fundraising is completed. If you would like to learn more about this project, which is a priority in the WSU Foundation's comprehensive campaign, contact Joseph Hunter at 316-978-3808 or josephl.hunter@wichita.edu.