Duke Raising Funds For New Facility
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Duke launched the next phase of its fund-raising efforts for a new basketball training facility last week with a presentation to several hundred Iron Dukes members prior to the home basketball game with N.C. State.
At a pregame gathering in the Yoh Football Center, director of athletics Joe Alleva and university president Richard Brodhead talked about the importance of the building, which has been named the Center For Athletic Excellence. Coach Mike Krzyzewski also addressed the supporters with a six-minute videotaped message.
The Center For Athletic Excellence, designed to fit alongside Cameron Indoor Stadium across from the Hall of Honor, has been in the planning stages for almost two years, but school officials have said construction will not begin until funding has been pledged. According to Alleva, about $8.5 million of the $15 million needed for construction has been raised. Large gifts in $1 million range have been targeted during the last year. Now the efforts are expanding to other giving levels.
“Our goal is to raise that money in the next two to three months and start construction this summer,” he said.
The 56,000 square foot facility will have three primary components: an academic center, a special events area and a basketball training complex.
The basketball elements are expected to include two full-sized basketball courts for year-round use by the men’s and women’s teams, a world-class weight and conditioning room, a state of the art video viewing theater and a Legacy Locker Room for former Duke players to use for offseason training at their alma mater.
“It’s a critical piece of the puzzle for keeping our basketball program strong,” said Alleva. “Right now we have the best basketball programs in the country, and I think it’s very important to keep it that way. Some of us who have been around here a long time can remember 1976 and 1977 and 1981 when we weren’t the powerhouse basketball team that we are now. We need to keep it strong because it is the centerpiece of our athletic department. It is what keeps us prominent and what allows us to be successful in other sports.”
The academic center will provide a dramatic upgrade in academic support space for athletes from every sport. Currently, the third floor of the Schwartz Butters Center is used for academic counseling, tutoring and computer resources.
The special events prong of the facility will face the new David Rubenstein Center on West Campus and will provide banquet space for up to 300 people, along with easy access to Cameron and a second level view into the basketball training gym. Duke officials expect this space to become one of the premier banquet areas on campus, not just for athletic events.
“The Center For Excellence will focus on two of our most important strengths,” Alleva noted. “One is academics and the other is basketball. Our reputation at Duke has been based on strong academics, and we have outgrown our academic space right now. The Center For Excellence will double the size of that space and provide an academic setting for all 600 of our athletes.
“It will also provide practice facilities for our basketball team, which will free up space in Cameron Indoor Stadium for other events. It will be a win-win for everyone.
“We are not going to build a new Cameron Indoor Stadium. That is our basketball venue. But it is important that we keep up with the rest of the country and improve our facilities so we can continue to recruit the scholar athletes that we need at Duke and maintain an elite basketball program.”
Along with the Center For Excellence, Brodhead spoke about the university wide Financial Aid Initiative that he announced in December. The president is spearheading Duke’s efforts to raise $300 million in new endowment funds over the next three years to strengthen its financial aid programs for students.
The initiative is seeking $245 million for undergraduate aid and $55 million for graduate and professional school students. The undergraduate total includes a goal of raising $15 million for athletics scholarships. When he was inaugurated in October 2004, Brodhead identified increasing the financial endowment as one of his highest priorities.
“While Duke already has enlightened aid policies and already funds undergraduate, graduate and professional student aid in hefty sums, at Duke, far, far less of our aid budget comes from restricted endowments than is the case at our strongest rivals,” Brodhead said. “Duke meets its aid commitments out of the same pool of funds that supports most everything else here, including academic programs. And what this means is that, in lean years or hard times, Duke’s need to fund student aid will be in competition with its need to fund the programs that would make top students and faculty want to come here in the first place.
“I want to keep Duke accessible to talented students in all foreseeable futures and I want to prevent any future collision between two fundamental imperatives: our obligation to social openness and our obligation to academic excellence. The success of the Financial Aid Initiative in raising permanent support for financial aid is crucial for this university’s future health.”
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