Indiana University

New Milt and Jean Cole Family Wellness and Fitness Center dedicated at IU Kokomo

  • Sept. 18, 2013


KOKOMO, Ind. -- Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie has officially dedicated the new Milt and Jean Cole Family Wellness and Fitness Center at IU Kokomo.

The 21,000-square-foot facility, which opened in August, was made possible through a $1.25 million gift from Milt and Jean Cole and their family of Logansport, Ind. The gift is the largest cash gift ever received on IU’s Kokomo campus.

“Everyone at Indiana University is deeply grateful to Milt and Jean Cole, as well as all of the members of the Cole family, for their extraordinary generosity,” McRobbie said. “This wonderful facility will be a vital resource for our faculty, staff and students and the entire Kokomo community.”

McRobbie also said the new center reflects IU’s ongoing commitment to addressing critical public health issues facing Indiana, which continues to rank poorly among all states in the leading causes of illness and death as well as determinants of health.  

“These very poor measures have a human cost in lives cut short and families devastated by loss. They also have an economic cost in lost productivity and spiraling health care costs,” McRobbie said. “Employers also are increasingly looking at public health measures in states when considering where to locate. A healthier community means lower health care costs for both employers and employees.

“The continuing declines we see in many of these health determinants lend a sense of urgency to our efforts to address the underlying problems,” he added. “The splendid facility we dedicate today is part of a broader response by Indiana University to help meet the serious public health challenges facing the state.”

The dedication of the new center comes almost a year after the inauguration of the Fairbanks School of Public Health on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus and the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington.

In recent years, IU also has built or enhanced facilities dedicated to fitness and wellness on all of its campuses, including its regional campuses, which enroll nearly one-third of IU’s students and which McRobbie called an “integral part of Indiana University.”

“IU’s regional campuses are invaluable community resources that serve a broad spectrum of students,” he said. “They are increasingly a first choice for some of the best and brightest high school students in Indiana, as can be seen in the large gains in the number of students earning Indiana Academic Honors degrees from their high schools and those being named 21st Century Scholars by the state.

“Our regional campuses, all of which have seen their enrollments increase to record levels in recent years, also serve as invaluable economic and community development catalysts in their regions and are playing a key role in helping the state achieve its goal of dramatically increasing the number of Indiana residents with college degrees.”

Student enrollment at IU Kokomo reached an all-time high this fall (4,178 students, up 12.3 percent from the previous fall), and the campus has experienced five consecutive years of enrollment growth. The campus has also set a record for the percentage of undergraduate students (74 percent) who are attending classes full time.

Helping attract students to Kokomo is the campus’s newly opened wellness and fitness center, a state-of-the-art facility complete with a walking track, cardio training and weightlifting equipment, and group fitness classes. The center is designed to help students, faculty and staff maintain good physical and mental health, as well as provide opportunities to expand allied health programs such as sports medicine and athletic training.

IU Kokomo Interim Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke called the dedication of the center a “very important event” in the history of the Kokomo campus and praised the Cole family for its past generosity, which has strengthened the living and learning environment on campus.

"In the many years that I have known Milt Cole and his family, I have always been struck by their positive attitude and their humble sense of giving back,” she said. “They make you feel important from the first time you meet them; it is about you, not about them.” 

Members of the Cole family are the owners of Cole Hardwood in Logansport. Their gift was announced in January 2012 at a gathering of students, faculty and staff. IU trustees approved the naming of the wellness and fitness center in honor of the family in June 2012.  

Milt Cole said he thinks the addition of the new center has had an impact not only on the campus but on the community.

“I do believe this center has created excitement here in Kokomo," he said. "It has elevated the positive energy. The iron is hot, it’s time to strike. I encourage everyone to get behind the movement. It’s a golden opportunity to get something done in Kokomo.”

Jean Cole urged IU Kokomo students to follow their example and give back, recalling their hard days that came before their business success.

“What mother could dream of a better life lesson of giving, that Milt and I can pass on to our children, and they can pass on to their children. Life is nothing but choices and saying yes, and walking through doors.”

Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie talks with students at the dedication of the new Milt and Jean Cole Family Wellness and Fitness Center at IU Kokomo.

Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie talks with students at the dedication of the new Milt and Jean Cole Family Wellness and Fitness Center at IU Kokomo.

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Media Contacts

Mark Land

Associate vice president, IU Communications

Ryan Piurek

Director, news and media, IU Communications

Marie Radel

IU Kokomo