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Campus, community gather to open Plaster Center

Hundreds of people from the Pittsburg State University campus and the community donned their Pitt State gear Tuesday to officially open the new Robert W. Plaster Center, a unique project that is a collaboration between the university, the city and private donors.

Hundreds of people from the Pittsburg State University campus and the community donned their Pitt State gear Tuesday to officially open the new Robert W. Plaster Center, a unique project that is a collaboration between the university, the city and private donors.

Speaking to the assembled crowd, PSU President Steve Scott pointed out that the Plaster Center was funded through a partnership of private donors, student fees, support from the county and a $5 million investment from the City of Pittsburg.

“The strength of this university is not in its buildings but in those who helped make them possible,” said PSU President Steve Scott. “Our strength lies in the relationships we’ve been able to forge with our students, alumni, community and donors.”

As examples of those relationships, President Scott pointed to the south and west to the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts, the Kansas Technology Center, the Student Recreation Center and the Kansas Polymer Research Center.

Speaking on behalf of the city of Pittsburg, commissioner Monica Murnan said the decision to invest in the Plaster Center was unlike any the commission had been asked to consider previously.

“The university’s proposal made us pause to consider exactly what a facility like this would mean for Pittsburg,” Murnan said. “Both parties, city and university, worked together to develop a plan that fit the needs of our community and its campus.”

Other speakers at the ribbon cutting included Bill Feuerborn, a member of the Kansas Board of Regents; Dolly Clement, executive director of the Plaster Foundation; Jordan Schaper, past president of the Student Government Association; Shawn Naccarato, director of community and government relations for PSU; and Kendall Gammon, director of development for intercollegiate athletics.

At the heart of the $13-million, 154,000-square-foot Plaster Center is the Harvey Dean Track, one of just six collegiately owned 300-meter tracks in the U.S., and a 100-yard artificial turf football practice field. The track is composed of the same Mondo Super X Performance synthetic rubber surface as that used in eight of the most recent Olympic games. The field is made of Mondoturf, the same turf on which the Gorillas play on in Carnie Smith Stadium.

“This track is one of the best of its kind in the U.S. and is a significant reason that PSU was chosen to host the 2016 and 2018 NCAA Division II National Track Championships and the 2017 and 2019 NJCAA National Championships,” said Kendall Gammon, director of development for intercollegiate athletics.

Seating that retracts with the touch of a button has been installed on the south side of the track. Up to 1,500 spectators can be accommodated.

On the second floor of the west end of the Plaster Center, the 11,000-square-foot ProMaxima Strength and Conditioning Center, with more than 1,200 individual pieces of equipment, spans most of the width of the building. Windows along the length of the conditioning center look out over the practice field and track.

The center was named in recognition of a major gift from ProMaxima, a Houston-based company owned by PSU alumnus Bob Leppke.

“ProMaxima’s gift is amazing,” said Jim Johnson, director of intercollegiate athletics. “They are the top equipment supplier to our armed forces, which lets you know it’s the very best you can find. It’s great to have this quality of equipment for our students.”

On the east end of the building, the Crown Automotive HD video board displays race times and video. The board, which measures 29 feet by 16 feet, has been linked to six remote broadcast-quality camera stations that will offer spectators and competitors the perfect angle for every event.

Features that athletes will especially appreciate are new locker rooms for football and track. Hollman Manufacturing, a company located in Irving, Texas, produced the lockers. Previously, Hollman has manufactured lockers for the Dallas Cowboys, the Chicago Bulls, University of Arkansas and Oklahoma State University.

Other amenities in the building include a catering kitchen, an equipment and laundry room, rooms dedicated to storage and controls for the video and sound systems, and new offices and conference rooms for track and field and cross country coaches.

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