Media Advisory: Wake Forest University celebrates wellbeing and sports performance on Sept. 5

On Sept. 5, Wake Forest University will demonstrate its commitment to transforming its approach to wellbeing for the entire campus community and also showcase enhancements to sports performance facilities for student-athletes.

A campus-wide kick-off for the University’s comprehensive approach to wellbeing, called Thrive, will feature dozens of fun and thought-provoking activities designed to inform and inspire the campus community to think differently about how to lead healthier, more balanced lives.

“Wellbeing has many dimensions and goes far beyond physical and emotional health,” said Wake Forest University President Nathan O. Hatch. “Wake Forest aims to transform both our campus and culture by making wellbeing a defining element of the college experience. Just as Wake Forest has become a national model for personal and career development, we are rolling out a comprehensive, holistic approach that will enliven our campus in Winston-Salem, and, we believe, also offer a model for campuses across the country.”

Additionally, a daylong celebration of recent leadership gifts to Wake Will: The Campaign for Wake Forest will feature:

  •  Breaking ground on the Sutton Center at historic W. N. Reynolds Gymnasium, which will add 46,000 square feet of recreation and event space;
  •  Unveiling plans for renovations and enhancements to the historic Reynolds Gym to serve as a dynamic hub and catalyst for enhanced wellbeing for students, faculty and staff;
  •  Starting construction on McCreary Field House, a state-of-the-art indoor practice facility that will provide an area for athletic teams to train year-round regardless of the weather conditions.

Schedule of events:

  •  2 p.m. Groundbreaking ceremony for the Sutton Center at historic W. N. Reynolds Gymnasium, Poteat Field
  •  3 – 6 p.m. Kick-off event for “Thrive,” Manchester Plaza
  •  3:30 p.m. Groundbreaking ceremony for the McCreary Field House, Parking Lot F, adjoining the Doc Martin Football Practice Complex

2 p.m.: Sutton Center Construction and Reynolds Gymnasium Renovations

Built in 1955, W. N. Reynolds Gymnasium is one of the original buildings on Wake Forest’s Reynolda Campus.

Breaking ground on the Sutton Center – a two-story addition that will provide 46,000 square feet of flexible space for fitness programming and a venue for both academic and social gatherings – marks the first of three phases to transform Reynolds Gym into a dynamic hub for campus-wide wellbeing.

Connected to the Northwest corner of Reynolds Gym by a floor-to-ceiling glass atrium, the Sutton Center will be built where the Leighton Tennis Stadium is currently situated and will feature two basketball courts – one on each floor – available for the recreational use of Wake Forest students, faculty and staff. The open, adaptable space will also be used for campus events, gatherings and receptions. A landscaped green space will lead to its entrance off Wake Forest Road. It is expected to be open by the fall semester of 2015.

Ben C. Sutton Jr., a Wake Forest graduate with undergraduate (’80) and law (’83) degrees, and his family made the lead gift for the new Sutton Center. He is Chairman and President of IMG College, the largest college sports marketing and broadcast company in America.

“To meet the challenges of the most competitive and global marketplace in history, we need to invest not only in the finest academic programming, but in healthy lifestyle development. Health and wellbeing are inextricably linked to quality of life and productivity, management of stress and the overall college experience,” said Sutton. “Our family is pleased that Wake Forest has accepted the challenge of being a national leader in an area of so much importance.”

The Sutton family’s lifetime commitments to Wake Forest total more than $20 million.

Ongoing fundraising in 2014 and 2015 will determine when Wake Forest begins the second phase of the Reynolds Gym transformation: renovating the existing building. The current goal to begin construction is in the summer of 2015. On Sept. 5, dramatic new plans will be unveiled for its design. (Dropbox link to high-res photos.)

From a two-level climbing wall to a demonstration kitchen, the building will offer fitness facilities, classrooms and conversational space. An expansive living room, racquetball and squash courts, a juice bar, group exercise rooms, space for yoga and meditation, volleyball courts, a spinning room, fitness equipment, and basketball courts are planned for the renovated area. Enhanced space for Student Health Services will be located on the lower level of the building in its existing location. The pool will be renovated in phase three.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Wellbeing Suite will house a wellbeing office and space for the soon-to-be-announced director of wellbeing. Earlier this year, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina made a $3 million gift to support the transformation of Reynolds Gym, as well as wellbeing programming and related faculty research.

A terraced amphitheater near the Sutton Center between Reynolds Gym and Kentner Stadium will provide a new space for outdoor events.

“Our goal is to create a vital physical center and shared space where people can come to learn and practice new healthy behaviors,” said Rogan Kersh, Wake Forest provost. “A dynamic program requires a dynamic home, and the building will serve the Wake Forest community in many ways while providing an impressive face for a national model of holistic wellbeing.”

Once the addition is complete, Reynolds Gym, totaling more than 188,000 square feet, will become the second largest building on campus. The largest is Z. Smith Reynolds Library, at more than 204,000.

Architectural renderings will be displayed at the event, which will also feature remarks by Sutton and President Hatch and a ceremonial groundbreaking.

3 p.m.: “Thrive” Kick-off

The campus-wide “Thrive” kick-off on Manchester Plaza will feature a campus-wide festival designed to inform and inspire the Wake Forest community to think differently about their personal approach to wellbeing. At the center of the event, a 90-foot long, three-dimensional, leaf-shaped installation will represent the University’s holistic approach to wellbeing.

Light-hearted activities involving puppies, a labyrinth, and hundreds of three-foot tall leaves will help the campus community consider serious topics such as financial planning, work satisfaction, intellectual engagement and spirituality.

“We want faculty, staff and students to thrive in all aspects of their lives,” said Vice President for Campus Life Penny Rue. “With fun and engaging activities, we hope to share important resources and engage people in building a broader understanding of the various aspects of wellbeing.”

Activities will cover eight dimensions of wellbeing: emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual. For example, in partnership with WFDD, campus community members can focus on intellectual wellbeing when they enter a sound booth to record answers to questions such as: “Describe a time when a Wake Forest class, event, professor or mentor inspired you to think differently.” An “OpportuniTree” will encourage attendees to share ideas about thriving at work, while Zumba classes and outdoor games will get people moving.

Equal parts education and inspiration, “Thrive” is a campus-wide effort which aims to give students, faculty and staff the skills, knowledge and perspective to live healthier, balanced lives. A comprehensive website ( serves as a place to share ideas, resources and updates on “Thrive” and the wellbeing dimensions.

3:30 p.m.: McCreary Field House 

Designed to benefit all of the Wake Forest athletic programs, the McCreary Field House will provide an area for teams to train year-round regardless of the weather conditions.

The facility will be located behind the Miller Athletic Center and will feature a 120-yard artificial turf field with roll-up doors that will open onto the existing football practice fields. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2015. Details of the project were announced in early July.

“The opening of McCreary Field House will be a superb venue to train our student-athletes and will also give us a recruiting asset that we have not had in the past,” said Director of Athletics Ron Wellman. “Facilities play a sizable role in recruiting and if you are not in the game with your facilities, your recruiting will be diminished. The McCreary Field House puts us strongly in the game. We are deeply grateful to Bob McCreary and other donors whose philanthropy makes possible this new facility.”

The groundbreaking will feature game-day refreshments and fun activities.

About Wake Forest University

Wake Forest University combines the best traditions of a small liberal arts college with the resources of a large research university. Founded in 1834, the school is located in Winston-Salem, N.C. The University’s graduate school of arts and sciences, divinity school, and nationally ranked schools of law, medicine and business enrich our intellectual environment. Learn more about Wake Forest University at



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