Last fall Purdue University Calumet released its strategic plan for the years 2008-2014, which outlined the plans for achieving its five main goals during that time. One of those goals involved the development of a vibrant campus community, something that PUC athletic director Dr. Bob Bunnell and the university’s senior administration team have turned into a reality with the proposal to add 10 varsity athletic programs over the next four years.
There are a number of ways that a growing athletic program can benefit the university, highlighted by the administration’s goal to develop a vibrant campus community. Other benefits include an increase in enrollment, additional athletic participation opportunities for PUC students, improved recruiting abilities, an increased number of participants in community service projects as well as possible NCAA membership.
That vision is set to begin to take shape next fall, as phase one of the expansion project will be put in place with four sports added to the slate. “The addition of the four sports next year will add another 45 student-athletes to our program, and provide many additional competitive and spectator opportunities for our students and the campus community,” said Bunnell.
Men’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis as well as women’s volleyball will all begin play next school year, marking the first time since 1998 that Purdue Calumet has fielded more than two athletic programs. The university announced in October the hiring of the following coaches: Natalie Shadowen (volleyball), Donn Gobbie (men’s tennis), Tim Maluga (women’s tennis) and Matt Meneghetti (golf).
The 2011-12 school year will see the addition of men’s and women’s cross country teams, before men’s and women’s soccer joins the department in the fall of 2012. Purdue Calumet will sponsor baseball and softball during the 2013-14 year, concluding the expansion of the athletic program.
However, the university’s proposal for the athletic program will not stop with the addition of new sports, as the plan may also include the implementation of new facilities both on and off campus as well as improvements to the existing Fitness and Recreation Center.
The announcement of Crown Corr Inc.’s 7.5-acre donation to the school last winter (in honor of founder Joseph Pellar) cemented the administration’s plans for an off-campus facility. “The gift of the Pellar family to PUC was critical in making some of our dreams come into focus,” said Bunnell. “Their generosity allowed us to think seriously about significant additions to our athletic program.” Pellar Park is expected to house the baseball and softball stadiums, which may be highlighted by a field turf playing surface.
The new additions on campus could include a six-court tennis facility as well as a state-of-the-art soccer complex. The design for the soccer field includes lights to allow night contests as well as field turf, features that should make the complex one of the region’s finest.