Franklin & Marshall College has long been a leader in fostering excellence in the learning and development of student-athletes, and college officials say a new gift to build a multipurpose stadium will allow the college to take its work in this area to the next level.
In the largest gift ever to F&M for athletics, Laurence Shadek '72 and the Shadek Family Foundation will give $5 million to the College to help build Shadek Stadium on F&M's North Campus. The gift is the leading investment in a drive to raise a total of $17 million for a multipurpose facility that will offer spaces for training and competition, sports medicine, and an innovative set of leadership and development programs for students and coaches.
"This visionary investment from the Shadek family allows F&M to develop our educational excellence in Division III athletics and provide an environment for learning, competition and community that elevates the scholar-athlete experience," College President Daniel R. Porterfield said.
"We deeply value athletics as a component of the total college experience and expect those who play a sport to excel as students and campus citizens," he said. "We seek to maximize the life lessons that students can learn in sport, and appreciate the ways in which athletics can foster community, school spirit, stronger ties to Lancaster and national visibility. This gift, and the further investment we expect it to spur, position F&M for new leadership in the distinctive educational tradition of Division III."
Although still in the conceptual development phase, plans for the stadium include fixed seating for 3,500 fans, in addition to supplemental seating capacity; an artificial turf field to be used by multiple athletics programs, including club and intramural sports; lighted space for practices and games; a press box and concessions on the home side of the facility; and spaces for locker rooms and meeting areas.
The new facilities will house an expanded student-athlete leadership program and a new professional development program for coaches launched in October 2011. Patricia Epps, director of athletics and recreation, explained that the leadership program will rely on faculty, alumni, coaches, student leaders and veteran sports professionals to foster growth and development of student athletes as teammates, students, citizens, leaders and future professionals.
"The facility and its programs will benefit our students, and we anticipate that they also will become a resource beyond F&M for high school and youth program coaches," Epps said, explaining that the stadium will host sports clinics and training sessions. "The facilities will not just serve the campus community, but will provide a chance for coaches to grow as educators. I truly feel that what we're doing at F&M led by President Porterfield could set an educational example for the rest of the country."
About one-third of F&M's 2,300 students participate on competitive, varsity athletic teams, and up to 70 percent also are involved in fitness and recreational activities, as well as intramural and club sports.
Shadek, an investment adviser with a practice in New York who is also an F&M trustee, said his family was motivated to support the stadium project because of the great influence playing football at F&M had on his own development, and because his family has seen such a positive impact from earlier donations to fund faculty chairs, student scholarships and improvements to the College's library.
"I think F&M has the right balance between academics and athletics," said Shadek, who was a history major at F&M and went on to earn an MBA from New York University. "Like the Greeks said, sound mind and sound body go hand in hand, and F&M and their coaches live that—Coach Bob Curtis, who I played for, plus legendary coach Tom Gilburg … and I have great regard for our current football coach, John Troxell. That tradition of commitment to athletics and scholarship motivated our family's gift even more."
Troxell and other coaches stressed that the new stadium is about putting student learning and scholarship first. The College currently has one turf field, which can create challenges for scheduling practices for multiple teams. The addition of another turf field with the completion of the stadium will allow coaches to schedule more practices earlier in the evening, giving student-athletes more evening hours for study.
"The number one point about the stadium is it's going to create a space for our students to be students, and not just college athletes," Troxell said. "It's common for athletic programs to scratch the surface in terms of speaking about athletics building leadership, but by establishing our formal leadership program, we're trying to teach our students much more in terms of leadership so that when they graduate, they have the skills to take on significant responsibility, not only in their workplace, but also in their communities."
The stadium creates an "environment for learning" also for the coaches through the professional development program, said Melissa Mariano, head field hockey coach and women's administrator in the Department of Athletics & Recreation.
"As a coach, there's a continuous learning process, just as there is for a professor," she said. "You always want to stay ahead of the game and be able to provide inspiration for your student-athletes, and help them develop and deal with various life issues. ... I know that we're all incredibly grateful for the Shadeks' support for athletics and for the greater campus community."
The funds for the stadium gift come from Shadek's family—including sister Katherine Shadek Boyle '81—which has a 40-year history of giving and support for F&M. Among other gifts, the family funds the Franklin & Marshall College Poll, and a prominent display of the family's support is the Shadek-Fackenthal Library. A gift from the late Arthur Shadek, Laurence Shadek's father, financed vital renovations and an addition to the building along College Avenue.
"We wanted to invest somewhere where it really mattered," said Laurence Shadek's mother, Katherine Shadek, explaining that the family chose to donate again to F&M because she believes in the value of a liberal arts education, having graduated from Barnard College and Columbia Law School.
Laurence Shadek was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1998. In 2001, he helped form and chaired the Diplomat Athletic Club to formalize the fundraising and engagement efforts between the athletic programs and alumni, and he serves as the athletics liaison to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees.
"It has been almost a continual involvement in F&M, I'm proud to say, since my father was involved," Laurence Shadek said. "A year or so after I graduated, I was in his office one night, and my dad said, 'We have made a decision about our philanthropic efforts; we have decided to make Franklin & Marshall College our main effort because I think we can make a difference there.'"
When asked by his father if he had any objection: "I said, 'Of course not. I had a terrific four years at F&M.'"
The College is working with the Sports Entertainment Group of Virginia architectural firm HKS Inc. in the early concept phase of the stadium project, while continuing to fundraise for the remaining $12 million to build the facility.
- Cass Cliatt