Western Illinois University has a storied bowling program that has produced three national championship teams and featured standout bowlers such as Jeremy Sonnenfeld, Vince Biondo and Derek Sapp.
But bowling at WIU is in serious trouble, according to a recent email I received from Christopher Pynes, a tenured philosophy professor at WIU.
Pynes, who is a long-time bowler and who put himself through college working as an A2 pinsetter mechanic, said the 16-lane campus bowling center has been closed for the past year and a half because there is no one to run it, and now the WIU administration is planning to replace it with offices for student services. The center is part of the the university union.
"This is a travesty," Pynes wrote. "There is absolutely no way that the university if it wanted to get a bowling center could afford to build one. They are going to just give this one away."
"College bowling cannot lose centers like this," Pynes added. "I know that the University of Tennessee, Knoxville is going to renovate their student union and remove the bowling center they have as well. These two centers closing are just terrible for college bowling.
"We are geographically isolated in Macomb, which makes this center really important. I have offered to donate my time in the past, but there is no real vision or understanding about bowling by the upper administration. They don’t know what they have, and I don’t really know how to make them see this."
He asked that I use my blog to spread the word in the hopes of finding someone or some group that could impact the situation, and similar situations elsewhere.
"Perhaps you know someone at the USBC who would be willing to help explain to the administration why college bowling is important and why this is a resource they shouldn’t just eliminate," Pynes wrote. "That is, show them how the center could generate revenue and be useful to the 11,000 students we have on campus.
We used to have bowling classes that generated semester credit hours and tuition dollars for the university, but since the center has been closed for the last 18 months, it hasn’t done much of anything other than appear to be a waste of space. Someone has to have some numbers to explain how it should run so that it is worth keeping."
Pynes, who can be reached at CA-Pynes@wiu.edu, also sent me a list of people to contact at WIU regarding the center.
"If we could give them solid reasons (read: financial) to keep the center, then I think we could save it," he wrote. "It really needs to be saved. It is a resource that hasn’t been used properly the seven years I have worked here."
The members of the Board of Trustees can be found here.
Here are their names and email or physical mail addresses of the BOT:
William L. Epperly, Chair, Chicago, IL; appointed 2004 firstname.lastname@example.org
Cathy E. Early, Macomb, IL; appointed 2012 email@example.com
Carolyn Ehlert Fuller, Milan, IL; appointed 1998 firstname.lastname@example.org
Phil G. Hare, Rock Island, IL; appointed 2012 email@example.com
Cesar Salas, Hoffman Estates, IL; Elected serving February 14, 2012 to June 30, 2012 Student member of the BOT: C-Salas@wiu.edu
J. Michael Houston, Vice Chair, Springfield, IL; appointed 1997 (Mayor of Springfield, IL. No email listed. Mail to 3309 Quail Chase Springfield, IL 62711)
Donald W. “Bill” Griffin, Secretary, Macomb, IL; appointed 2006 No email listed
Lyneir R. Cole, Chicago, IL; appointed 2011 No email listed: Mail to: 9334 Saginaw Ave. Chicago, IL 60617
The President’s email address is J-Thomas2@wiu.edu. His webpage is http://wiu.edu/president/