sealPurdue News

May 10, 2002

Fitness center named for $1 million donor couple

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – More students than ever will be able to stay fit due to the newly created fitness area in the Recreational Sports Center at Purdue University.

The area has been named the Colby Fitness Center in honor of a couple who donated $1 million to the center. Ken and Linda Colby, of San Diego, Calif., were recognized Thursday (5/9) for their contribution to Purdue.

Download Photo Here

University President Martin C. Jischke said many generations of future students will benefit from the Colbys' generosity.

"Purdue enjoys a long tradition of providing faculty, staff and students with a wide variety of means through which to exercise the body as well as the mind," Jischke said. "The Colbys have ensured that the Purdue community can continue to stay fit with the best equipment and facilities available."

Thomas B. Robinson, vice president for student services, said the gift will have a direct impact on the quality of life for the Purdue community.

"The university is most appreciative of Ken and Linda Colby's gift, which will support Purdue students in a very direct way every day."

Ken Colby graduated from Purdue in 1973 with a degree in electrical engineering. He recently served as vice president of engineering for InterVU, the company which pioneered the use of video on the Internet. He is currently developing software independently while he pursues a lifelong dream of becoming a professional photographer. Linda Colby, an elementary special education teacher, is pursuing graduate studies in cross-cultural language and cognitive development at the University of California at San Diego.

Ken said his gift to Purdue, which is deferred, serves as a thank-you for providing the foundation for a successful career.

"The reason I gave this gift is simple – Purdue changed my life," he said. "The opportunities created by my Purdue education launched a career than enabled me to give this gift."

Fond memories prompted him to donate to the Recreational Sports Center, he said.

"Almost every day my friend and I would play ping-pong or I would swim," he said. "It was a great break from studying. I also think stress is the plague of the 21st century. I think more engineers will lose their jobs because of their inability to handle stress than their lack of technical skills. My hope is that the Colby Fitness Center will encourage today's Purdue students to lead a healthy and balanced life."

Carol Stickel, recreational sports division director, said the 19,000-square-foot Colby Fitness Center will contain more than 175 pieces of cardiovascular and strength training equipment, of which nearly one-third is new to the Recreational Sports Center. The free weight equipment, including Olympic benches, dumbbells and bars, will be completely upgraded.

Other fitness center highlights include 15 televisions in the cardiovascular equipment zone and a state-of-the art stereo system which can be heard throughout the fitness center. The center also will feature central air conditioning and full elevator access.

More than 850,000 faculty, staff and students use the Recreational Sports Center each year. It was the first facility in the United States to be built solely for students' recreational needs.

In addition to the cardiovascular and weight training equipment, the indoor facilities include racquetball, handball and wallyball courts. The Recreational Sports Center also features the new Boilermaker Aquatic Center, which officially opened Aug. 20. It houses an 8-lane, 50-meter competitive pool, and a 6-lane, 25-yard diving tank. The diving well has 1-meter, 3-meter, 5-meter, 7.5-meter and 10-meter platforms, as well as 1-meter and 3-meter springboards.

Writer: Marydell Forbes, (765) 496-7704,

Sources: Carol Stickel, recreational sports division director, (765) 494-3113,

Ken Colby, (858) 487-6086,

Thomas Robinson, (765) 494-5776,

Related Web site:

Division of Recreational Sports

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

* To the Purdue News and Photos Page