Today's Question: Should MU keep the Health Connection gym open?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 | 10:30 a.m. CDT; updated 12:21 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Last Monday, MU's School of Health Professions Dean Richard Oliver said he would like to keep the Health Connection gym open.

Oliver told a group of about 100 that money is still a major concern. In the past, Health Connection received research grants, which are no longer available.

According to Oliver, the gym has a deficit of more than $400,000 and operates at an annual deficit around $100,000.

The gym, which MU has operated on the Stephens College campus for the past 19 years, is scheduled to close on June 30. Oliver said he has to put the best interest of his students first.

When asked, members of the facility offered to pay higher fees or said they would try to bring a friend to the gym. Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade, who has been coming to Health Connection three days a week for a couple of years to exercise an arthritic knee, said the decision runs counter to the university's priorities.

"The university has three missions: research, teaching and public service. The Health Connection is an innovative integration of all three," he said after the meeting. "That's what should be supported and advanced."

At a meeting outside the facility in March, a group of the gym's 320 members decided to write letters to officials, including Gov. Jay Nixon, UM System President Gary Forsee and Oliver, among others.

Several of these letters ran in the Missourian.

In one, 73-year-old Ivah Dodds, who has been a member of the gym for 19 years, wrote that the Health Connection has contributed to her physical and emotional health.

Dodds praised the staff at the facility for developing close personal relationships with the members and demonstrating a real interest in their well-being.

Should the university invest the money to keep Health Connection open?

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