Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

February 2016

Purdue University Simplifies & Boosts Security

It's a dilemma faced on campuses across America: recreational centers frequented by hundreds or even thousands of students daily, with lockers for storing books, clothing and other possessions. Staff time is often devoted to long lines of students checking out locks, and handling lost or misplaced keys, forgotten lock combinations, digital lock malfunctions and similar issues.

Security for user belongings is the primary concern. The cost of maintaining it, however, time- and budget-wise, can be horrendous, which prompted staff at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., to start investigating options early in the planning stages when expanding the facility now known as the France A. Córdova Recreational Sports Center (CoRec).

"We wanted locker locks that were totally mechanical," said Luke Versprille, associate director, facilities for Purdue's Division of Recreational Sports. "We didn't want students having to stop by the desk to check out a lock, pay a quarter or carry a key around with them, and we didn't need locks with batteries that we'd have to replace on a regular basis.

"We have a lot of lockers in public, high-access areas, where individuals can secure belongings while they're working out, participating in intramural sports, using the aquatic facilities or other rec center amenities. The Master Lock Multi-User locks give us the solution we were looking for."

Versprille said about 8,000 students, faculty and staff stream into the CoRec during a typical week throughout the school year. Banks of two or three dozen lockers are located near highly frequented areas on all four main floors. Users can set their own personalized three-digit combination and, when finished, clear it for the next user.

Purdue has placed simple user instruction stickers on lockers within each bank to help first-timers catch on quickly or to remind frequent visitors. Dashes next to the numbers on the lock dial make it easy to see each digit being set for the combination. An arrow on the dial points upward toward an "unlocked" icon—or left toward a "locked" icon—instantly indicating whether or not the locker is secured.

If a user locks the locker before setting a combination or forgets the combination they set—or even which locker they used—facility staff has a supervisory override key and "can easily access lockers for those patrons," Versprille said. "The override key allows you to retain the last-set combination or reset the lock combination. This requires much less time than checking in/out and keeping track of traditional locks, and far less time than it would take to replace batteries or resolve other more complex electronic lock issues."

"With 225 public access lockers in this facility, chances are good that over a one-year period, Versprille's staff would be replacing batteries in an electronic lock virtually every day," agreed Kevin McCarthy, Master Lock product manager for Locker Locks.

Even better, the easy-to-use Multi-User system "has increased our level of security," Versprille said, "by encouraging lock usage. In the past, users often tended to simply toss their belongings into unlocked lockers, rather than check out a lock or bring their own. Now locked lockers are more common, and we've had far fewer thefts with this system."

"The simpler and easier you make it, the more it's used," McCarthy added. "This long-time Master Lock principle has been proven in practice over and over again."

Versprille pointed out that not only are the locks much easier and more convenient for student and faculty users, "from a service standpoint, they allow our staff to handle membership renewals and program registration much more quickly without those long lines of people trying to check out locks.

"At our busiest times, we could have about 30 staff on duty. Each has a unique responsibility, whether it's running a certain student program or a facility component. We have intramural programs for just about any sport you can name. We offer exercise classes and instructional programs. Our Wellness Suite includes massage therapy, and is utilized by the Student Health Center for physical therapy. We even have a demonstration kitchen for nutrition classes."

The Center has basketball and volleyball courts, a recreational swimming pool with areas for water sports plus a spa, and shares a competitive eight-lane pool and diving platforms with Purdue's athletic department.

While noting that more than 500 pieces of cardiovascular, weightlifting and pin-set resistance training equipment get their share of daily usage, Versprille said that "we're essentially a comprehensive wellness center with a number of educational components, and more than simply a place where students and faculty come to work out."

Located near student dormitories in the heart of Purdue's main campus in West Lafayette, the original center opened in 1957 and was the first such university facility in the United States built specifically and solely to serve students' recreational sports needs. Several updates over the years included a 62,500-square-foot addition in 1981. The $98 million newly expanded center, including the Aquatic Center and Turf Recreational Exercise Center, exceeds 467,000 square feet—more than triple the original size.

The new Córdova Center offers an open, airy interior with sight lines in three dimensions, and a large atrium connecting east and west entrances. Natural light in abundance floods all five levels, and some of its strength and cardio equipment is located in new build-out spaces with large windows. These windows have UV-E protection as well as "fretting" dots to moderate sun exposure.

For more information about the Multi-User lock and other locker products, visit

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