College announces plans for $8 million aquatic center

June 23, 2010

Luther College has released initial architectural plans for an $8 million aquatic center project that is part of the college's "Transformed by the Journey" Sesquicentennial Fund, a five-year, $50 million funding initiative that will take Luther into its 150th anniversary celebration in 2011-12.

The proposed site for the 31,500-square-foot facility is the on the northeast corner of the Regents Center on Luther's lower campus. The building addition will feature an eight-lane, eighth-foot-depth, 30-meter competition pool, a 14-foot-depth diving competition pool, state-of-the-art timing equipment, larger deck and diving spaces for competing teams, and seating for 300-plus spectators. 

Luther plans to finance construction of the new aquatic facility with $4 million in donations through the Sesquicentennial Fund and about $4 million through bond financing arranged by the college. 

Luther officials said the new aquatic facility will be available for Decorah High School swim team practices and meets, swimming lessons and recreational use for the community as in the past. Construction of an expanded locker room for community and guest usage will depend on the amount of funds that can be raised locally.

The college's decision to fund and construct the aquatic facility on its campus concludes several years of conversations among city, public school and college leaders to jointly build an aquatic center that would be operated cooperatively to serve the needs of the college, school district and city. Keith Christensen, Luther vice president for development, said it became apparent the timing is not right for a joint project.

"Each entity has its own financial needs and priorities," Christensen said. "This was not the time for the direct partnership, so it became incumbent upon the college to proceed with the planning, funding and eventual construction on our own."

In addition to the needs of the college's intercollegiate swimming program, Luther will use the new facility for wellness programs for its students, faculty and staff. 

"It is not just the college that will benefit from the construction of this competitive pool," Christensen said. "The local community's swimming programs as well as local wellness and recreational programs stand to benefit also."

The Sesquicentennial Fund

Describing the goals of the $50 million Sesquicentennial Fund, Luther President Richard Torgerson said, "The Sesquicentennial funding initiative is about programs and people—our 'human endowment.'

"Luther's most recent campaigns have focused on place and 'getting our house in order.' Due to the success of those campaigns, many buildings and much infrastructure have been added to our campus. The focus of The Sesquicentennial Fund is related to endowment programs."

The Sesquicentennial Fund projections include $33 million for endowment projects, including a $9 million endowment to support a Fund for Transformational Teaching and Learning, $12.5 million for a scholarship component, plus funding for student and faculty fellowships.

The Sesquicentennial Fund also includes $5 million for the Center for Sustainable Communities including a component for environmental education for K-12 students in the area.

In addition to the pool facility, the Sesquicentennial Fund will support a limited number of other capital priorities, such as campus landscaping and signage and the construction of a wind turbine to generate a third of the college's electrical power.

For complete information about the Sesquicentennial Fund, contact the Luther Development Office, telephone 800-225-8664, or visit

Proposed pool design
Pool site plan