The family believes F&M strikes the ‘right balance between academics and athleticsLarry Shadek '72, P’05, P’06 vividly remembers the best dime he ever spent. It was his senior year in high school, and his football coach had a college coach who was interested in having Shadek come play for him.
“I went down to the pay phone in the school and called my dad,” he recalls. “I said, ‘There’s a coach here from a college in Pennsylvania called Franklin & Marshall, I think, and he wants to know if I want to go there to play football. Am I interested?’”
His father, the late philanthropist Arthur Shadek, told his son that Franklin & Marshall had a great academic reputation, so, yes, he was interested.
“I went back to the coach and told him what my dad had said. That’s how I was introduced to F&M,” Shadek says. “It was the best dime I ever spent.”
Enhancing the Student-Athlete Experience
His decision to attend F&M, where he played football as well as baseball and developed strong friendships that endure today, started a Shadek–F&M association that is still going strong.
In January, Shadek, a Trustee since 1998, and the Shadek Family Foundation made a gift of $5 million to help build Shadek Stadium on F&M’s North Campus.
This gift, the largest ever made to F&M for athletics, is the leading investment in a drive to raise $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.
“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,” President Daniel R. Porterfield says.
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.
The College is working with the Sports Entertainment Group of Virginia architectural firm HKS Inc. on the stadium, which is still in the conceptual development phase. Initial plans for the stadium include seating for 3,500 or more fans; an artificial turf field to be used by multiple athletics programs, including club and intramural sports; lighted space for practices and games; and spaces for locker rooms and meeting areas.
“I think F&M has the right balance between academics and athletics,” says Shadek, a history major who went on to earn an M.B.A. from New York University and is now an investment adviser.
The athletics component of his F&M education has made Shadek an advocate for the student-athlete experience at F&M. This commitment led him to help form the Diplomat Athletic Club, attend as many games as he can and support current and former F&M players.
Shadek was a quarterback on the football team after coming to F&M as a lineman. “I weighed about 185 pounds. I decided I didn’t want to get beat up anymore on the line,” he explains. “So I told the freshman coach that I used to be a quarterback. I just didn’t mention that it was in midget football. I threw a long touchdown pass in a scrimmage to the fastest kid on the team, and I was set after that.”
He counts his football and baseball teammates among his best friends, and they regularly play golf and reminisce about their time together in college. “My friends used to get a kick out of the fact that my family name was on the library,” he jokes. “I think they’ll be saying a football stadium is a more appropriate place.”
Shadek has great respect for coaches, and laments that perhaps “I should have been a coach.” He cites F&M’s football coaches Bob Curtis (his coach), Tom Gilburg and current coach John Troxell and basketball coach Glenn Robinson as examples of F&M coaches who inspired their players to be good citizens on and off the playing field.
“That tradition of commitment to athletics and scholarship motivated our family’s gift even more,” Shadek emphasizes.
A Family Affair
The Shadek family has been motivated to give for nearly five decades since Arthur Shadek joined the College’s Board of Trustees in 1973. They have donated generously to the College, providing scholarships, endowed professorships in the humanities and funds for the addition and renovation of the library in 1982.
“We wanted to invest somewhere where it really mattered,” says Katherine Shadek P’72, P’81. As a graduate of Barnard College and Columbia Law School,
“It has been almost a continual involvement in F&M, I’m proud to say, since my father was involved,” Larry Shadek says.
An important part of that involvement is the four members of the Shadek family who followed in Larry’s footsteps to the heart of Lancaster. His sister, Katherine Shadek Boyle ’81, is a graduate, as are her son, Patrick ’11, and two of Larry’s three sons, Mark ’05 and Christopher ’06.
Early on, Boyle knew the College well from attending her big brother’s games, and she was drawn to F&M’s liberal arts education. It didn’t hurt that her father, an attorney, thought F&M would be a good fit for her, too. “He was usually right about these things,” says Boyle, an art history major who did not play sports.
The Shadek family agrees that F&M has played an instrumental role in their lives. Larry Shadek credits his playing days on F&M’s gridiron with helping him develop as a person and as a leader. When the stadium project came to the family’s attention, the clan was again united in its support.
“I’m supporting the stadium project to continue my parents’ vision for the College,” Boyle says, echoing both her parents and her brother. “My father, in particular, strongly believed in getting involved in things that mattered to him, and he believed in the value of a classical education.”
Larry Shadek becomes reflective when he talks about continuing his parent’s legacy of generosity. “My dad believed that education was the way to a better life. His dad died in 1929 from spinal meningitis when he was just a boy,” he says. “His mother had an eighth-grade education and a young family to raise. It was education that helped my dad and my uncles achieve their success.”
That’s why the Shadek family has made a focused effort to support F&M. “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.’”
His father asked if he had any objection. “I said, ‘Of course not. I had a terrific four years at F&M.’” Those four terrific years have turned into 40—and a family legacy that is timeless.
– Additional reporting by Cass Cliatt