A Step Closer

Jan. 19, 2008

Mackey Makeover

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The planned renovation and expansion of Purdue's Mackey Arena is a step closer to completion as the university today announced $5 million in private gifts for the project.

Five sets of donors each have committed $1 million to help bring the campus landmark into the 21st century. Four are from Indiana, including the orthopedic surgeon for Purdue athletics. The other donor is from Chicago. Upgrades to the 40-year-old basketball arena include not only improved arena seating and ticket offices for fans, but also the opportunity to join academic, athletic and training needs under one roof.

"Our athletic teams and facilities are an important part of Purdue spirit and help keep our alumni, faculty, staff and students connected," Purdue President France A. Córdova said. "The new facilities also will give student-athletes the tools to succeed, not only in their athletic endeavors but also in their academic pursuits. I greatly appreciate the willingness of our donors to help Purdue educate and graduate athletes who can be stars both in competition and in the classroom."

The $1 million donors and the specific efforts their contributions support include:

* A gift from Dr. K. Donald Shelbourne, an Indianapolis orthopedic surgeon, and Clarian Health, to create the Shelbourne Sports Medicine Training Room of Mackey Arena.

* The Dennis Schwartz Basketball History Exhibit in the Mackey Concourse will be named in honor of a gift from Dennis J. Schwartz, a 1963 industrial engineering alumnus.

* The Schleicher family of Sellersburg, Ind. Richard Schleicher is a 1959 mechanical engineering graduate who is donating the funds with wife, Alice, and daughter, Kimra, a 1988 liberal arts graduate.

* The plaza between the intercollegiate athletic center and the student-athlete academic center will bear the name of alumni and donors Robert and Sally Weist of Chicago.

* Jim Ackerman, a 1947 agricultural economics alumnus, and his wife, Lois, for whom the main entrance to the intercollegiate athletics center will be named.

Morgan J. Burke, Purdue's director of Intercollegiate Athletics, said the five commitments bode well for Mackey's future.

"The scope of this project depends in great part on the success of raising $30 million in private funds," Burke said. "Purdue is doing its part by leveraging funds from our Big Ten television contracts, but this plan will not materialize without the generous support of donors like these. We are thankful that they are sharing in Purdue's vision for a state-of-the-art sports facility that does not require any support from taxpayers."

K. Donald Shelbourne

Shelbourne, a knee specialist at the Shelbourne Knee Center at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, has served as an orthopedic consultant to Purdue's athletic programs since 1982.

Shelbourne has devoted his career to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee injuries. He has performed more than 5,000 ACL reconstructions in the last 25 years. A technique pioneered by Dr. Shelbourne in 1994 repairs the damaged ACL using a tendon graft from the non-injured knee. The advancement has shortened the recovery and rehabilitation time of knee injuries, allowing many athletes to return to their chosen sports in about three months.

"I've been working with Purdue athletes since the beginning of my career," Shelbourne said. "Dealing with the Purdue trainers and the motivated athletes has allowed me to make my practice very specialized. Purdue has shaped my entire practice, my entire career and my clinic at Methodist. This was the absolute right way for me to give back."

Clarian Health operates medical facilities at seven locations throughout Indiana, including Methodist Hospital and Riley Hospital for Children. A new hospital is currently under construction in Lafayette through one of Clarian's latest acquisitions, Clarian Arnett. The Clarian network of hospitals consistently ranks as one of the nation's top hospitals by U.S. News and World Report.

Dennis J. Schwartz

Schwartz, of Mishawaka, Ind., and Sea Ranch Lakes, Fla., has a long history of supporting his alma mater. A retired banking executive, he is active in his Elkhart, Ind., family business, Dehco/Cast Products/TriStart Distributing. In 2006 Schwartz pledged nearly half the money needed for the $7.2 million Schwartz Tennis Center at Purdue in the memory of his wife, Mary Lou, a devoted tennis player who died in 2002.

He received the President's Council Distinguished Pinnacle Award in 2002 and also has established a scholarship for incoming freshmen in his fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi.

"Purdue basketball is more than a hobby, it's a passion for many alumni," Schwartz said. "It's a sport that is deeply ingrained in Boilermaker history. Updating the facilities for these excellent athletes shows them how much we appreciate their hard work and rewards faithful alumni such as myself who enjoy taking in the games in West Lafayette."

Richard and Alice Schleicher

The Schleichers previously donated $400,000 to renovate the Mollenkopf Athletic Center. Schleicher Field is named in their honor. The family runs 56 KFC restaurant franchises in southern Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama.

Richard Schleicher said their latest gift was a logical next step for the family in their continuing support of Purdue.

"I think athletics is one thing that ties alumni back to the university and, of course, for that to really happen, we need to have successful athletic programs," Schleicher said. "Athletics is a bit of an arms race. The university with the better facilities will attract better athletes, so it's an absolute must that we have great facilities."

Kimra Schleicher

Both Kimra Schleicher and her brother, Rick, are employed in the family business. The Schleicher Family Scholarship in Purdue athletics honors the memory of Richard and Alice Schleicher's other son, Douglas.

Robert Weist

Robert Weist, a 1962 chemical engineering graduate, currently serves as president of Weist Associates, a biotechnology industry consulting business in Chicago. Sally Weist, a 1961 liberal arts graduate, is a former elementary school teacher. Robert Weist received an Outstanding Chemical Engineer Award in 2005, and the couple accepted the President's Council Distinguished Pinnacle Award in 2006.

The Weists formerly set up a golf scholarship at Purdue and contributed to the construction of the Boilermaker Aquatic Center. They also created the Mary Endres Endowed Chair in Elementary Education, a named professorship.

Sally Weist

Robert Weist, who participated in intramural sports while at Purdue, said he believes well-rounded students should have an interest in sports, whether at the intramural or intercollegiate level.

"Our focus has always been on the student," Weist said. "The idea of trying to preserve Mackey while upgrading is something we strongly support. The expansion of the student study center, which will help the athletes succeed academically, particularly intrigued us."

Jim Ackerman, a former banker, broker and cable television executive, currently serves as chairman of Cardinal Ventures, an Indianapolis-based venture capital firm. Ackerman donated $2 million to create the James F. Ackerman Center for Democratic Citizenship at Purdue in 1993. The center focuses on teaching ethics, civics and economics to students.

Jim Ackerman

The Ackermans also have made gifts to the Boilermaker Aquatic Center and the Ackerman Hills Golf Course at Purdue and endowed a faculty chair in agricultural economics. Residents of Indianapolis for more than 60 years, Jim Ackerman said the couple would always be fans of Boilermaker sports.

"I was actually the sports editor of the Exponent while at Purdue," Ackerman said. "I wasn't good enough to play, but I was good enough to write."

Ackerman said from a financial standpoint, the upgrades to Mackey Arena are prudent.

"The Mackey plans make all kinds of sense," Ackerman said. "If they tore it down, it would be built back at a much higher cost. This way it will still accomplish what we all want it to accomplish without a huge price tag."

Former Purdue quarterback Drew Brees and his wife, Brittany, have already contributed $2 million toward the expansion to create the Drew and Brittany Brees Student Athlete Academic Center in the expanded Mackey Arena project.

Brees, now the starting quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, played for the Boilermakers from 1997 to 2000 and earned a bachelor's degree in industrial management. Brittany Brees also attended Purdue, earning a bachelor's degree in organizational leadership and supervision in 2000. She runs the Brees Dream Foundation full time in its mission to provide education and create opportunities for disadvantaged children, especially those suffering from the debilitating effects of cancer.

In 2007 Dick and Jeanne Groben of Sarasota, Fla., also contributed $1 million toward the Mackey renovations. To recognize the Grobens' enduring commitment to Purdue, the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics named its endowed scholarship program the Groben Society.

Longtime John Purdue Club members, the Grobens first became involved in the program by endowing a scholarship for the football program after being inspired by brothers G. Robert "Bull" and John Durham and their Durham Challenge in 2006. Their lifetime giving to the university totals more than $1.25 million.

Dick Groben, a 1950 Purdue graduate in chemical engineering, spent his sales and marketing career in the field of chemical engineering as a vice president with Pfizer Chemical and as founder and part owner of Microlife Technics. Jeanne Groben raised three children and is an accomplished writer and humorist, having been published in the Wall Street Journal and Reader's Digest. Both of the Grobens are from Evansville, Ind.

Purdue's Board of Trustees on May 18 authorized hiring a Mackey project architect, based on an assumed project cost of $82.35 million. The detailed design will include specifications and drawings, which will ultimately lead to a bidding proposal and a more refined cost estimate for the overall project. Bidding authorization will be sought from the trustees in September.

Construction and premium seat sales for the new Mackey complex are expected to start in 2009. Construction is slated for completion by the start of the 2011-2012 season. Mackey will remain the home court for Purdue men's and women's teams throughout the construction process.


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