Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Ritchie Center amenities are a magnet for students

Last year when Lauren Barocas had narrowed her college choices to two schools, the University of Denver and Colorado College, DU’s Ritchie Center helped her break the tie.

It definitely had a big impact on my decision to come to DU,” says Barocas, a junior biological sciences major from Denver.

“I’m very active and I swim and work out almost every day,” she says. “No other school had a place even close to how nice the Ritchie Center is. It was icing on the cake.”

Barocas isn’t alone when it comes to schools’ recreational amenities influencing college choice.

The Associated Press (AP) reported earlier this year that colleges and universities around the country are touting their recreation centers to prospective students to help them stand out in the competition for applicants. AP reported that the trend is the latest in which universities attempt to attract students with prominent perks.

The Ritchie Center is a key stop on the campus tour for the more than 2,000 prospective students and their parents who visit DU each year. Among its amenities, the Ritchie Center offers:

•    A 14,500 square-foot work out area
•    A squash court and two racquetball courts
•    Seven personal training studios
•    Six outdoor lighted tennis courts
•    A two-story climbing wall
•    An Olympic-size pool

Barocas admits she wanted a good education and knows she’s getting one at DU, but she says school isn’t just about classes.

“The Ritchie Center also gives students a place to get away from studies. DU is hard and I think it helps student achievement for them to have a place where they can release those endorphins,” Barocas says.

One of those places is the Ritchie Center’s fitness center, which offers 45-minute mini-workouts about six times a week, according to Tiffany Ulatowski, assistant director of the fitness center. DU developed the workouts to fit into students’ busy schedules.

“The classes are pretty popular,” Ulatowski says. “They fit well with students’ lives.”

From July 2005–June 2006, the fitness center alone had 203,295 visits from students, faculty and staff, says Matt Gohl, director of aquatics and fitness at the Ritchie Center. Another 142,244 visits came from the community.

The many opportunities for students to work out helped DU make a top fitness ranking. In October, Men’s Fitnessranked the University of Denver 22nd in its list of Top 25 Fittest Colleges in America for 2006.

Beth Riley, assistant director of admission at DU, says that during campus tours she often overhears comments from students and parents about the Ritchie Center.

“It’s absolutely a positive factor in students’ decisions to come here,” Riley says. “The students we attract are physically active and they’re looking for what schools have to offer in that area.”

Rodney Smith, executive director of university events, agrees. “When students leave DU they leave with a superior education, but they also leave with a wonderful experience and that’s partly because of the Ritchie Center and all they can experience there.”

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