Elon’s visionary HealthEU Center will be a hub for holistic well-being on campus.

Imagine a place where a student could take a personal finance class, cheer on a friend at a swim meet, join a yoga group and connect with a research mentor all under one roof. A place where resources for every aspect of their well-being are interconnected in a welcoming and dynamic space. That’s the vision for Elon’s new HealthEU Center, a holistic hub for programs and experiences designed to enable students, faculty and staff to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

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Slated to open in 2026, the 135,000-square-foot facility will become the second-largest building on campus behind Schar Center and will combine academics with recreation, health and wellness offerings along with support for the well-being of members of the university community. The design of the building prioritizes collaboration, connection and innovation.

The three-story building is planned within the Innovation Quad that now includes Sankey Hall, Founders Hall and Innovation Hall and will be built south of the Colonnades Neighborhood on land that is now vacant. The multifunctional facility is rooted in the six dimensions of the HealthEU initiative — community, emotional, financial, physical, purpose and social.

“We understand that wellness and well-being are critical to the success not just of our students but also our faculty and staff,” President Connie Ledoux Book says. “This multifaceted facility will provide a wide range of support to our community and offer opportunities to connect with each other and with resources that support their growth and development.”

A comprehensive commitment

The HealthEU initiative encourages an integrated approach to wellness around six dimensions: community, emotional, purpose, financial, physical & social.

The new HealthEU Center is the latest step in Elon’s endeavor to build a national model for collegiate health and wellness initiatives. The university launched HealthEU, a comprehensive effort to support the health and well-being of students, faculty and staff, in fall 2022. The initiative is guided by the HealthEU Council and the new director of HealthEU initiatives, Anu Räisänen, who starts at Elon in August.

Elon believes health and well-being are central to a modern life and must be core to the experience of every person on campus. Personal well-being is directly tied to academic achievement, employability, community wellness, happiness and overall success. It’s a multi-dimensional, holistic process leading to positive change and growth over a lifetime. With this approach in mind, HealthEU provides access to resources, educational tools and support for all members of the university community while cultivating personal wellness values they can rely on throughout their lives.

HealthEU is rooted in Elon’s Boldly Elon 10-year strategic plan, which was launched in spring 2020. Included within the plan’s Thrive theme, Elon developed the HealthEU initiative to elevate programs, research and dialogues promoting resilience, belonging and all aspects of lifelong personal wellness. HealthEU empowers every individual at Elon to actively implement and integrate wellness values in their daily lives, with their peers and in their greater purpose through six dimensions of well-being:

  • Community – Creating a sense of engagement, connection, safety and pride in the people and campus of Elon University.
  • Emotional – Building resilience, grit and the mental capacity to both thrive and contribute to your own personal growth.
  • Purpose – Developing a deep sense of fulfillment, spiritual meaning, personal identity and vocation.
  • Financial – Understanding the opportunities, limitations and responsibilities of personal finances.
  • Physical – Practicing regular personal habits related to health, physical ability, exercise, sleep and nutrition.
  • Social – Forming authentic, deep and supportive interpersonal relationships.

“Personal and community health and well-being are increasingly important to all members of the university community, and Elon can be a leader in ensuring people have what they need to be safe, healthy and fulfilled,” Vice President for Student Life Jon Dooley said when HealthEU was announced in 2022. “HealthEU is designed to connect students, faculty and staff with the broad range of resources that Elon has now and will continue to build out in the coming years. It’s a comprehensive effort that will foster education, relationships and engagement.”

A synergistic approach

Rendering of the collegiate competition-sized pool.

The HealthEU Center will provide a central location for a broad spectrum of programs and resources related to wellness and well-being at Elon. The building will include offices and space for academic departments including exercise science, education and wellness, and other faculty focused on health and wellness. Labs and spaces for interdisciplinary research on health and wellness will be included as will rooms designed for one-on-one and group fitness assessments, personal training, health and nutrition coaching, and financial literacy.

An expanded Mark and Kim Tyson Counseling Center will relocate to the new building in support of individual and group therapy with offerings including workshops and outreach programs. A HealthEU vending area and demonstration kitchen will provide healthy dining options and support nutrition education efforts.

The HealthEU building will offer new campus recreation and fitness facilities including:

  • A gymnasium with team and individual recreation spaces.
  • An aquatics center with a collegiate competition-sized pool.
  • Fitness, weight training and exercise space for groups and individuals.
  • An indoor track.
  • A climbing center with climbing and bouldering walls.
  • An outdoor fitness center.

A physical therapy and athletic training clinic will be included as well as studios for individual and group meditation, mindfulness and yoga. Space will also be provided to support employee wellness programs.

“I think this facility will do for wellness and well-being what other centers on campus have done for initiatives like design thinking, civic engagement, global study, excellence in teaching and learning, and engaged learning,” Dooley says. “Those integrated spaces have brought together faculty from different disciplines and students that are doing research and practice together, so I think this will be a similar type of space where that will be fostered.”

Early conceptual renderings of the building depict architecture that complements Elon’s traditional collegiate aesthetic with a modern flourish, boasting swaths of large windows to create an open, welcoming space and showcase the activity within the building from the exterior. An expansive entry plaza, outdoor fitness areas and ample green space surround the building, while inside areas for fitness and athletics, nutrition, mental well-being, research, classrooms and offices can be found throughout the three floors. A significant portion of the second and third floors are open, so visitors can easily view the activity below at the pool, gymnasium courts and climbing areas.

Among the spaces supporting physical activity in the new facility will be an indoor track, pictured in this rendering.

Elon has been intentional in fully integrating academic components into the facility to underscore the emphasis on collaboration and to help leverage the spaces within the facility for research purposes. Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Rebecca Kohn explains the building was designed so that users move through different types of spaces on their way to their destination. For instance, the classrooms will be interspersed throughout the three floors of the building rather than placed in one area. “There’s exercise equipment spread throughout the building,” Kohn says. “Faculty offices won’t necessarily be next to classrooms, and faculty and staff offices related to wellness will be intermixed.”

A person heading to the third floor for a financial literacy class may pass the gym, the offices for counseling services and an exercise science lab. The goal is to help people see the connection between these different elements and how they impact a person’s overall wellness and well-being.

“We’d like this to be a space that draws all faculty, staff and students into it so that everyone can see something about this building that they want and need to be part of,” Kohn says.

A natural evolution

Personal well-being is directly tied to academic achievement, employability, community wellness, happiness and overall success.

The plans for the HealthEU Center follow years of work at Elon, including a 2016 report by the Presidential Task Force on Social Climate and Out-of-Class Engagement as well as a 2018 report by the Task Force on Student Wellness and Well-Being. The university appointed a group tasked with creating a vision for a new wellness and well-being center on campus, and in 2022, the institution launched the HealthEU initiative.

The HealthEU Council’s charge includes collaboratively advancing wellness and well-being as a strategic priority for Elon; coordinating services, programs and resources that address the six dimensions of wellness; and providing vision for the integration of initiatives to address holistic wellness. From that work, the need for a new, centralized facility dedicated to the comprehensive well-being of the Elon community became clear.

Many of Elon’s current fitness resources such as Jordan Gym, Beck Pool and Stewart Fitness Center are currently housed in Koury Athletic Center, which was built in the 1970s to support an enrollment that was one-third of today’s 7,000 students. Under the HealthEU initiative, the university sought to integrate the myriad wellness resources already happening across campus with new experiences and determined the aging existing facilities were not well suited to amplifying those efforts.

“The genesis of the idea [for a new wellness center] goes back probably four or five years ago,” says Brad Moore, associate vice president for facilities and chief facilities officer. “We could see the national emphasis on mental health and well-being across the country, and just looking at our facility, we knew it was an older building that needed to be addressed, and we were thinking about synergies that we could potentially enhance and improve upon. In Koury, we have Campus Recreation and Wellness, the Department of Exercise Science, and the Department of Education and Wellness all sharing a facility, so there’s a little bit of overlap, but not as much as we would prefer.”

There will be teaching and research focused on well-being taking place in the same facility where the practice of holistic wellness is happening every day.

The task force creating the vision for the new HealthEU Center completed multiple visits to other university facilities. The visits included new buildings and renovated buildings, and while some tried to integrate multiple components into the facility, none went as far as what Elon was seeking to do.

“What we found was that no one was doing exactly what we were planning on doing, which was not only the practice of wellness and well-being, but the research and study and education around wellness and well-being,” Moore says.

According to Dooley, many of the facilities on other college campuses are very student-focused, and Elon wanted to take a more expansive approach. It’s difficult to elevate student wellness without also supporting faculty and staff in modeling essential well-being skills and practices for students, he says. A commitment to wellness should permeate the whole campus community.

“In our case we’re thinking about this as a community of well-being that is supported by this facility,” Dooley says. “The goal is for this to be a resource to the entire university community — students, faculty and staff.”

A philanthropic opportunity

Fundraising for the project started in fall 2023. Construction is expected to start in fall 2024 with a grand opening being planned for summer 2026.

Elon has set a $25 million fundraising goal to help make the HealthEU Center a reality. To date, donors have contributed more than $6.5 million to the project, says James B. Piatt Jr., senior vice president for university advancement and external affairs. Alumni Mark ’98 and Kim ’99 Tyson and Elon parent Preston Cain P’24 are among the donors who have made generous gifts to the project. Many naming opportunities are available throughout the center, beginning at $50,000.

“We are actively engaged in a fundraising campaign to support the HealthEU Center in partnership with inspired donors who believe in the vision for the center and are committed to ensuring students have the skills they need to lead lives of meaning and purpose,” Piatt says.

Construction of the HealthEU Center will begin in summer or fall of this year, with Samet Corp. serving as construction manager for the project. Plans call for the building to open in summer 2026.

Dooley emphasizes that the HealthEU Center fits naturally into Elon’s distinctive model for engaged learning, in which experiences inside and outside the classroom are closely integrated. “That philosophy is central to this facility. There will be teaching and research focused on well-being taking place in the same facility where the practice of holistic wellness is happening every day,” Dooley says. “We’ve really challenged the designers on this, because we’re going to do something that no other university is doing at the level we can.”

Make your mark

Elon will raise $25 million in philanthropic support for the HealthEU Center.Many naming opportunities are available beginning at $50,000. Gift commitments may be made in full or with a pledge over a period of five years. To find out how you can make an impact with your gift, contact Brian Baker, associate vice president for university advancement, at (336) 278-7453 or bbaker7@elon.edu.