Donor gives major boost to $7 million wellness research center project

Layla Abbas
LV Life Editor

The Randall Lewis Center for Wellness and Research is expected to open in fall 2019 at the University of La Verne campus; this $7 million project will be dedicated to research, wellness and healthy lifestyles for students, faculty and community members.

The center, sponsored by philanthropist and Executive Vice President of the Lewis Management Corporation Randall Lewis and other university donors, will be located at Third and C Street in the building previously occupied by Davenport Dining Hall.

Provost Jonathan Reed said the center will offer a designated area on campus that encourages research in health-related fields by faculty and students.

“I was very thankful the Lewis family would support not only the health of our students but the health of our students and staff,” Reed said. “The center will offer health and wellness opportunities for all students and, in particular, will provide more in-depth health assessment tests for students in the Fitness for Life classes.”

Reed said that a key feature of the new center is the type of fitness space available, which is a “quantum leap” above what was previously offered.

“Establishing habits during your undergraduate career can last a lifetime, so healthy living in terms of fitness, mental well-being and nutrition are critical habits to develop during college,” Reed said.

Sarah Dunn, director of research and sponsored programs, developed an idea for the center five years ago with a group of colleagues.

Dunn, along with Jerome Garcia, professor of biology, and Megan Granquist, director of the athletic training program, imagined a center focused on research catered to every department at La Verne.

“Our initial ideas were probably more focused on just research and was a little more myopic then what it has become,” Dunn said. “This has become more of a University vision and, in doing this, it takes in account other ideas and aspects that were not just mine alone.”

Dunn said she is happy a piece of her vision is incorporated in the new facility.

“I am lucky this is even happening, and I can see it cannot just be one tiny little vision anyways,” Dunn said. “It has to encompass all aspects of the University, so our idea morphed into something much bigger than it once was, and that is exciting.”

The center is meant to improve students’ comprehension of health literacy through seven dimensions of health: physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, occupational, social and environmental.

“This is about getting some great applied learning experience,” Dunn said. “You are not just sitting in a classroom learning about this; you are there doing a hands-on lab in wellness.”

Dunn said a unique feature about this center is its potential to serve as an internship facility directly on campus.

“The courses I teach in kinesiology will be able to use this as an applied learning place, almost like having an internship on campus,” Dunn said. “If the lifelong wellness course was going to assess someone’s posture, then it would be kinesiology students learning how to assess posture and performing peer assessments on other students.”

The center is not designated to a specific field of study, so it is open to whoever wants to utilize the space for any research.

“Because this center is revolving around the Seven Dimensions of Health, it is open to lots of interpretations of how one uses this space,” Dunn said. “I can see faculty all across campus coming with their own perspective on how they can utilize the space.”

Clive Houston-Brown, vice president of technology services and facilities, is overseeing the physical planning and architectural drawings of the center.

“My role is to coordinate the facilities renovations project and work with the team that is conceptualizing the project,” Brown said. “And to see what they are looking for in terms of programming and then develop the layout, renovation plans and budget, timelines, permitting.”

Brown said the planning has gone smoothly and the team is continuing to seek more donors to support the project.

Anytime there is a fundraising component involved it will effect the possible timeline of the project, Brown said.

“We have identified a portion that we will be putting in from the University funds, but we always try to fundraise till the last minute so any additional fundraising can offset university equity.”

Zandra Wagoner, university chaplain, wants the center to minimize the stress on campus and increase hands-on learning across fields.

Wagoner said opportunities for people to treat their body is a necessity because mental health and body health are closely related.

“I am excited that we are having a focus on health and wellness because it helps our communities,” Wagoner said. “It helps students be as successful as possible and helps our campus be healthy as a community.”

Dunn is hopeful this center will serve as an outlet to encourage students to learn about their health and the impact it has on others.

“If you look at the demographics of our region, health is a concern,” Dunn said. “There are health disparities. There are individuals who are maybe uneducated and do not understand some of the health issues that might be plaguing them or their community.”

Layla Abbas can be reached at

The original headline for this story contained some inaccuracies. Randall Lewis is not a University of La Verne alumnus. Further, the $7 million total represents the total cost of the project, not Lewis’ gift. The Campus Times regrets the errors.

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