Team captain Victor Lopez ’17 at practice in the new wrestling facility.
New Graham Building enhances student health, wellness and counseling services as well as a key team sport.
Bill Graham '62 remembers making the trek down Snake Road to the Ziegler Health Center when he was a student feeling under the weather. Today Bucknell's health, wellness and counseling services sit squarely in the center of campus life, made possible by a trustee emeritus' significant gift: the 36,000-square-foot Graham Building, which opened Aug. 1.
Located between Sojka Pavilion and Seventh Street, the facility's first floor houses Student Health (formerly in Ziegler), the Counseling & Student Development Center (most recently located in Lowry House) and the Wellness Center, which is Bucknell's first space dedicated to wellness programming for students, faculty and staff. An expansive second floor is devoted to wrestling, with state-of-the-art training equipment and facilities for the highly regarded Division I program.
Graham, a four-year wrestler who donated more than $7 million toward the $12 million facility, is excited about the upgrade for Bison wrestling, but he's just as pleased about the building's impact on health for all students.
"The health center is going to benefit everyone on campus," he says. "I've invested a lot in wrestling, and I wanted to do more for the entire University. Bucknell helped me develop into the person I am. I think it's important to give back after all I've gained from Bucknell."
Student Health has now doubled its exam rooms to 10 and added new medical equipment and dermatology services, as well as offices for a nutritionist and an insurance liaison. The counseling center increased its staff of full-time psychologists from seven to eight and added space for group sessions. A side entrance for the counseling center offers privacy for patients. Medical and counseling services and the Wellness Center are all in proximity to one another, allowing for easy referrals, collaboration and a greater focus on preventative rather than acute care.
Psychologist Kelly Kettlewell, director of the counseling center, says the new location underscores that mental health is essential to general well-being. "Part of decreasing the stigma associated with mental health is making it more acceptable," she notes. "It can't just be a counseling-center concern — mental health and wellness has to be a whole-campus investment."
Upstairs, the wrestling training center's 50-foot-by-100-foot mat room can accommodate 36 wrestlers in 18 rings. An overhead camera system allows wrestlers to analyze their moves on near-instant video replay. And the adjacent coaches' office, weight room, trainer's office and team room allow easy collaboration. The locker room is lined with 40 solid-maple lockers — plenty of space for the current roster of 35, with room to grow.
Wrestling is a lifelong passion for Graham, the 1961–62 Bison co-captain, who was instrumental in bringing back the program in 2005 after it was dropped by the University in 2001. The Graham Building grew from his belief that the team needed wrestling-specific facilities to reach its full potential. Previously, wrestlers shared a common men's locker room and showers with other Kenneth Langone Athletics & Recreation Center users. Head Coach Dan Wirnsberger says the dedicated facility will enhance team building as well as Bucknell's ability to recruit premier student-athletes.
"I consider this to be the best wrestling-specific training center in the country," Wirnsberger says. "Everything we could need or want is right here." The restored program has done very well in a challenging conference, he notes, and the new facility will only enhance the team's success.
"The cameras in the wrestling room are awesome, and the locker rooms are really going to motivate the first-year wrestlers," predicts team captain Victor Lopez '17. "This tells them that they're part of a serious program and that the school is really investing in them.
"It sets up expectations for the wrestlers to succeed," he adds. "But I enjoy the pressure, and I want to succeed."