IT’S CLEARLY A BIG BUILDING, but the Robert W. Plaster Center’s location, away from the street and tucked behind the Weede Physical Education Building, makes it easy to underestimate the most recent addition to the campus.
“Visitors’ reactions are almost always the same,” said Tom Myers, associate athletics director for facilities. “Stepping inside the door sort of takes their breath away.”
The official dedication of the Plaster Center in April drew hundreds of campus and community members who all have a stake in the new building and all expect it to have an impact to match its size.
President Steve Scott referenced that shared interest in his remarks to the crowd. He pointed out that the Plaster Center was funded through a partnership of private donors, student fees, support from the county and a $5 million investment from the City of Pittsburg.
“The strength of this university is not in its buildings but in those who helped make them possible,” said PSU President Steve Scott. “Our strength lies in the relationships we’ve been able to forge with our students, alumni, community and donors.”
Speaking on behalf of the city of Pittsburg, commissioner Monica Murnan said the decision to invest in the Plaster Center was unlike any the commission had been asked to consider previously.

President Steve Scott and officials representing students, the city, the Kansas Board of Regents, the PSU Foundation and the Robert W. Plaster family join to cut the ribbon at the Robert W. Plaster Center.

President Steve Scott and officials representing students, the city, the Kansas Board of Regents, the PSU Foundation and the Robert W. Plaster family join to cut the ribbon at the Robert W. Plaster Center.

“The university’s proposal made us pause to consider exactly what a facility like this would mean for Pittsburg,”
Murnan said. “Both parties, the city and the university, worked together to develop a plan that fit the needs of our community and its campus.”
For its part, the city hopes to attract visitors to the community by hosting things like boat and RV shows. The university, meanwhile, has already been chosen to host the 2016 and 2018 NCAA Division II Men’s and Women’s National Track Championships and the 2017 and 2019 NJCAA National Championships, all of which will also attract visitors to the community.

Dr. Dolly Clement, executive director, Plaster Foundation

Dr. Dolly Clement, executive director, Plaster Foundation

The Plaster Center is named in honor of the late Robert W. Plaster, founder of Empire Gas. Plaster’s daughter, Dolly Clement, represented the family and the Robert W. Plaster Foundation at the dedication.

 

 

 

Plaster Center Details
Harvey Dean Track
• 300 meters
• Mondo Super X Performance surface (used in the Olympic Games)
• retractable seating

Artificial turf field
• 100-yard field
• Mondoturf surface
• complete automatic netting system

ProMaxima Strength and Conditioning Center
• 11,000 square feet
• 1,200 individual pieces of equipment
• more than 20,000 pounds of free weights
• Freeman Health Fueling Station
• wide-screen monitors

Crown Automotive Video Board
• 16 feet by 29 feet
• 10 mm pixels for HD
• six remote camera stations

Track & Field/Cross County Locker Rooms
• 96 lockers in two rooms
• advanced ventilation systems
• made by Hollman, the nation’s premiere athletic locker manufacturer

Track & Field/ Cross Country Offices
• Offices for Men’s & Women’s head coaches & assistants
• reception room
• conference & team meeting room

Football Locker Room
• 125 lockers by Hollman
• advanced ventilation system
• multimedia room

Special amenities
• On-site catering kitchen
• control room to operate sound system and video board
• equipment and laundry room
• storage and staging room

 

Track taught life lessons

One of the most impressive features in the Robert W. Plaster Center is the 300-meter track, one of the finest in the U.S., and it bears the name of alumnus Harvey Dean.
Dean, CEO of Pitsco, Inc., is a longtime supporter of Pittsburg State and has donated to a wide variety of causes on campus. He said he chose to make a major gift for the track because it was a project that reminded him not only of his early days in education, but also of the lessons he learned that would influence the business model he still uses today.
“I was 22 and right out of college, teaching at a small junior high and high school,” Dean recalled. “They didn’t have a track program and I started one. We didn’t even have a track. They just ran around the football field.”

Harvey Dean, left, shares a moment with PSU Head Track Coach Russ Jewett.

Harvey Dean, left, shares a moment with PSU Head Track Coach Russ Jewett.

The first year was hard.
“I was a miserable failure and almost all of the kids quit,” Dean said.
But Dean didn’t give up. He reached out to legendary coach Bob Timmons for advice and then developed a coaching system that provided advice and support, but put the responsibility for success on each individual.
The students responded and success followed. In his fourth and final year at the school, his team was runner-up for the state championship.
Dean said he took the things he learned from these early years and has incorporated them into his philosophy for running a successful company and even into the development of some of the company’s most successful products.
Since Dean founded Pitsco in 1971, more than 160 million students have experienced science, technology, engineering and math products purchased from the company. Dean was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Inc., magazine and in 2012, Pitsco was selected the Governor’s Exporter of the Year for the state of Kansas. Dean received the Small Press Book Award for his book, “Changing Education.”

Harvey Dean, left, shares a moment with PSU Head Track Coach Russ Jewett.

Just how big is the Plaster Center?

The main athletics portion of the Plaster Center, which includes the Harvey Dean Track and the indoor practice field, measures approximately 450 feet by 275 feet. To put it in perspective, the space is 40 feet longer than the center field wall in Kauffman Stadium. It’s big enough to park two Boeing 787 Dreamliners, nose-to-tail, although getting them out might be a problem.

A testament to hard work
The ProMaxima Strength and Conditioning Center, overlooking the Plaster Center field and track, is a testament to one Pitt State alum’s belief in hard work and planning.
Bob Leppke (BS 1969) is the owner and founder of ProMaxima Fitness in Houston, Texas. Over the past 45 years, Leppke has built the company into one of the top names in commercial fitness equipment for college and high schools, the U.S. military, police and fire departments, hotels and health clubs.

The ProMaxima Strength and Conditioning Center will serve student athletes from every sport.

The ProMaxima Strength and Conditioning Center will serve student athletes from every sport.

“Bob is a big believer in hard work and strategic planning,” said Kendall Gammon, special assistant to the president. “It’s how he built his business, and why ProMaxima is an industry leader. When he saw the scope of the project and the level of support it had from our community, he knew he wanted his Gorillas to use ProMaxima equipment.”
Encompassing more than 11,000 square feet of space, the ProMaxima Strength and Conditioning Center is more than triple the size of PSU’s previous center. •

The ProMaxima Strength and Conditioning Center will serve student athletes from every sport.

A massive graphic design proclaiming Gorilla Nation greets visitors to the Robert W. Plaster Center. At right, lockers honor PSU’s two Harlon Hill Award recipients, Ronnie West and Ronald Moore.

Just how big is the Plaster Center?

The main athletics portion of the Plaster Center, which includes the Harvey Dean Track and the indoor practice field, measures approximately 450 feet by 275 feet. To put it in perspective, the space is 40 feet longer than the center field wall in Kauffman Stadium. It’s big enough to park two Boeing 787 Dreamliners, nose-to-tail, although getting them out might be a problem.