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Walter Fieldhouse

Lead donors Robert D. and Margaret “Peggy” M. Walter join Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis in cutting the ribbon at the Walter Fieldhouse dedication.

Photographer: Ben Siegel, UCM

Walter Fieldhouse

Alumni, donors, students, faculty and staff gather in the Walter Fieldhouse to dedicate the 89,000 square-foot recreation facility.

Photographer: Ben Siegel, UCM

Walter Fieldhouse

The most exciting band in the land, the Ohio University Marching 110, performs for hundreds of students, alumni and donors, faculty and staff at the Walter Fieldhouse dedication.

Photographer: Ben Siegel, UCM

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Students, alumni, faculty and staff gather to dedicate Walter Fieldhouse on OHIO’s Athens Campus

Monday, Aug. 25 wasn’t only the first day of school for Ohio University’s students, it also marked the dedication day for OHIO’s newest facility: Walter Fieldhouse.

Hundreds of students, alumni and donors, faculty and staff gathered on the Fieldhouse’s full-sized football field to dedicate the 89,000 square-foot facility. Cutting the ribbon were lead donors Robert D. and Margaret “Peggy” M. Walter, and Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis.

“This is a great day for Ohio University,” President McDavis said. “We began dreaming of this type of facility, and how it would transform the student experience, a long time ago. It is an honor to dedicate Walter Fieldhouse, standing among many of the donors who made it possible and many of the students who will put it to use. I’m personally grateful to all of the donors who provided gifts to help us build this magnificent facility.”

All told, 475 donors made gifts and pledges totaling more then $11.15 million in support of Walter Fieldhouse. Alumni donors are graduates from across all 10 of OHIO’s academic colleges and represent the classes of 1942 through 2010. Current students and their parents, faculty and staff, corporations and organizations, and other OHIO friends made contributions in support of the facility, which is having a campus-wide impact.

“Under the leadership of Campus Recreation in the Division of Student affairs, Walter Fieldhouse will provide OHIO’s students, as well as the Athens community, with opportunities for large-scale indoor events that previously would have been impossible,” Vice President for Student Affairs Ryan Lombardi said. “We’re indebted to every donor to the project, as well as to the University’s trustees, for their vision and their investment in this great campus resource.”

Construction on the $13 million facility began in April 2013. Much of the funding for the project was provided by an $8 million commitment to the Fieldhouse from the Walters and the Walter Family Foundation in December 2010. The Walters both graduated from Ohio University in 1967, Robert Walter with a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering and Peggy Walter with a bachelor of fine arts.

“Peggy and I find it gratifying to support our alma mater in this way and to inspire others to do the same,” said Robert Walter. “The Walter Fieldhouse will support classroom instruction, recreational activities, athletic practices and other special events. The Army ROTC, the Marching 110, Campus Recreation and others will make great use of this facility, which accommodates multiple and simultaneous activities as well as large-scale indoor events. Co-curricular activities are an important outlet for students and community members alike, and we are happy to be a part of establishing a space for these types of activities.”

Robert Walter earned his master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School in 1970, and received an honorary doctorate from Ohio University in 1997. He is the retired chairman and CEO of Cardinal Health in Columbus, Ohio, a company he founded in 1971 at the age of 26. He served on Ohio University’s Board of Trustees from 1997 until 2005.

Next door to the Fieldhouse is Ping Student Recreation Center. Since Ping opened in 1996, Athens Campus enrollment has increased nearly 16 percent to more than 22,650 students. Together, these two facilities will provide a hub for academic, recreational and fitness opportunities.

“The addition of the Walter Fieldhouse means growth for students,” said Carly Graman, a senior in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and student director of marketing and special events for Intramural Sports. “Students will be able to play pick up games and run indoors during inclement weather and stay active. I am really looking forward to Intramural games being played in Walter Fieldhouse. I think it will add a neat experience for all students for different events and their own personal recreation use.”

In addition to the football field, Walter Fieldhouse includes a four-lane practice track and netting. Funds from the student General Fee were used to support the construction of the track as well as the facility’s annual maintenance costs.

Walter Fieldhouse is the first new facility for use by OHIO’s student athletes since Chessa Field, the University’s soccer complex, was opened in 2002. The Fieldhouse provides a practice and training area for all of OHIO’s outdoor varsity sports: baseball, cross country, field hockey, football, golf, soccer, softball, and track & field.

“This facility is transforming the future of OHIO Athletics and our entire campus,” OHIO Athletic Director Jim Schaus said. “For our varsity sports, it will provide the practice and training facilities that will help us compete and recruit nationally and at the highest level within the Mid-American Conference. Every donor to Walter Fieldhouse can feel good that his or her investment will have a significant impact on the future of OHIO Athletics and students throughout our campus. I can’t thank them enough for their generosity.”

Gifts in support of Walter Fieldhouse are part of The Promise Lives Campaign, which surpassed its $450 million goal in April 2014, 14 months ahead of the June 30, 2015, deadline. Already securing more than $465 million, the Campaign continues to raise funds in support of OHIO’s students, faculty, programs, partnerships and select facilities.