Iowa Western Community College marked the official opening of the Dr. John and Jean Marshall Wellness Center Monday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that included the C.B. Ambassadors, Iowa Western Board of Trustees, Marshalls and others.

The $15.2 million, 92,000-square-foot facility on the south edge of the college’s Council Bluffs Campus was built with the help of a $2 million gift from the Marshalls.

“We’re really excited about the opportunities this is going to provide for our students,” President Dan Kinney said.

Jaron Still, Iowa Western student, cheerleader and resident assistant, spoke on behalf of the students.

“I would like to thank Dr. John and Jean Marshall,” he said. “The wellness center provides numerous opportunities for so much growth. This is an amazing resource.”

The center also provides job opportunities for students, Still said.

“It is an honor for both me and my wife, Jean, to be part of this,” said Dr. John Marshall. “We are so honored to be asked to participate in this way. We thank the community for being supportive of it.”

The Marshalls were honored in 2011 with the Investment in Excellence Award, the college’s highest honor. They have supported Iowa Western for many years, and their involvement with the college’s Black Tie Harvest dates back to its inception in 1999. They have served on the Black Tie Committee in various capacities, including as chairs of the event. They also created the annual Black Tie Patio Party and have hosted it at their home every year. Jean Marshall has worked with the VIP Board and Adult Learning Center, accruing more than 500 volunteer hours. John Marshall serves on the Iowa Western Foundation Board and the Board of Trustees.

Several years ago, Iowa Western started experiencing an increase in the number of students with anxiety, depression or other mental health issues, Kinney said. The college hired a part-time mental health therapist, then made the position full time. As the administration looked for other factors that could help alleviate the problem, he became aware of a study that demonstrated that physical activity helps relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety.

“We decided we needed to provide a space where students could be physically active,” he said.

The concept was developed, and the Board of Trustees got on board.

“We helped follow the vision of Dr. Kinney,” said Brent Siegrist, president of the Iowa Western Board of Trustees. “It’s going to be great for students — and for recruitment, too.”

When Marshall asked Kinney how they could help the college in a meaningful way, he suggested they help with the wellness center.

The building includes an 80-yard turf field, gymnasium, batting cages, aerobics room, exercise machines and free weights.

“This building’s going to be here a long time,” said Tom Hanafan, interim CEO of the Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce. “This just makes our community much better when we all work together.”

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