Significant Score

Jan. 26, 2008

Mackey Makeover

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The planned renovation and expansion of Purdue University's Mackey Arena scored again today with a $5 million pledge from a single donor.

The gift from Purdue trustee, alumnus and businessman Michael Birck and his wife, Katherine (Kay), combined with other donor giving, brings the university two-thirds of the way to its $30 million private fundraising goal for the facility upgrades.

Improvements to the 40-year-old arena include improved arena seating, ticket offices and other amenities for fans, as well as the opportunity to bring academic, athletic and training needs into one complex. The new Intercollegiate Athletic Center will bear the Bircks' name.

Michael Birck

Michael Birck, a 1960 electrical and computer engineering graduate, is chairman of Tellabs, a telecom services company he co-founded. Birck began his career in telecommunications services as a member of the technical staff for AT&T's Bell Telephone labs.

"Michael and Kay Birck have shown their commitment to Purdue through gifts to worthwhile causes," Purdue President France A. Córdova said. "In 2001, they pledged $30 million to help build the Birck Nanotechnology Center, the first facility of its kind in the country. They made possible the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex and donated toward the construction of the Boilermaker Aquatic Center.

"With this donation to Mackey Arena, they are continuing their legacy of giving to Purdue by maintaining and updating the tradition of student athletics at our university."

Morgan Burke, Purdue's director of Intercollegiate Athletics, called the Birck gift forward-thinking.

"Michael and Kay's support of Purdue athletics takes into account both our current space limitations and the future of the student-athletes and the basketball program," Burke said. "I am grateful for their gift, which will allow us to recruit more outstanding student-athletes to programs that are going places."

Birck said his gift to Mackey Arena came from a love of Purdue athletics. While at Purdue, he played varsity baseball.

"Kay and I have enjoyed Purdue athletics for many years," Birck said. "The facilities at Mackey draw many fans, but if we want to continue recruiting top athletes, we need to upgrade them. We are happy to make this gift to Purdue's student-athletes and the community of fans and alumni who will also benefit from it."

Katherine Birck

In addition to his role as Purdue trustee, Birck chaired the steering committee of the Campaign for Purdue, the university's $1.5 billion fundraising effort that ended in June 2007. He also is a member of the Krannert School of Management dean's senior advisory board.

He and his wife also endowed a faculty chair in electrical and computer engineering, a chair in the School of Nursing, and several graduate and undergraduate fellowships.

In addition to his work with Tellabs, Birck is a venture capitalist, inventor and entrepreneur. He and his wife will serve as members of the leadership steering committee for the Mackey Arena project.

Other members and co-chairs of the steering committee include:

* Eugene and June Parker will serve as co-chairs of the committee. Eugene Parker, a 1978 management graduate, played basketball for the Boilermakers from 1975-78. He is ranked 18th in all-time leading scoring with more than 1,400 points. He is the founder and chief executive officer of Maximum Sports Management, an agency that represents professional athletes.

* Drew and Brittany Brees also will co-chair the committee. The couple has 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 New Orleans Saints' starting quarterback, 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.

* Beth Brooke will co-chair the committee. Brooke serves as the global vice chair for strategic communications and regulatory affairs at Ernst & Young International, a global auditing company. Brooke is a former women's basketball player who graduated from the School of Management in 1981.

* Jim Ackerman, a 1947 agricultural economics alumnus, and his wife, Lois, for whom the main entrance to the intercollegiate athletics center will be named. The Ackermans donated $1 million to the Mackey renovations. Jim Ackerman is a co-owner of Cardinal Ventures, Indianapolis. The Ackerman's son, John, and his wife, Kathy, also will serve on the committee.

* Ron and Kay Belin. Longtime supporters of Purdue athletics, the Belins previously funded the Belin Volleyball Court and endowed two scholarships, one for volleyball players and one for hospitality and tourism management majors. Ron Belin is executive vice president of MTPCS LLC in Valparaiso, Ind. Kay Belin is a homemaker who previously worked as an elementary school teacher. She attended Purdue before transferring to the University of Miami where she and her husband graduated. Both of the Belins' children graduated from Purdue.

* Dick and Jeanne Groben, of Sarasota, Fla., who also contributed $1 million toward the Mackey renovations in 2007. 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.

* Tim and Jane McGinley of Indianapolis. McGinley, who is chairman of Purdue's board of trustees, received his bachelor's degree from the School of Chemical Engineering in 1963. While at Purdue, he played varsity basketball. He is the managing partner and principal owner of House Investments in Indianapolis. A recognized entrepreneur in the real estate industry, he previously served as deputy assistant to the secretary of labor in Washington, D.C. Jane McGinley graduated from Purdue in 1962 with a bachelor's degree in elementary education. She is a former teacher in the Indianapolis area.

* Bob Holloway and his daughter, Becky Morris. Holloway, a longtime support of Purdue athletics and a 1948 alumnus, has committed $2 million to the Mackey project. Holloway owns several hotels in the Louisville and Frankfort, Ky., areas. Morris graduated from the College of Consumer and Family Sciences in 1974.

* The Schleicher family of Sellersburg, Ind. Richard Schleicher is a 1959 mechanical engineering graduate who donated $1 million to Mackey Arena with wife, Alice, and daughter, Kimra, a 1988 liberal arts graduate.

* Dennis J. Schwartz, a 1963 industrial engineering alumnus. Schwartz donated $1 million to the Mackey project.

* Dr. K. Donald Shelbourne, and his wife, Carol. Shelbourne, an Indianapolis orthopedic surgeon, donated $1 million with Clarian Health to create the Shelbourne Sports Medicine Training Room of Mackey Arena.

* Tom and Joy Spurgeon. Tom Spurgeon, a 1961 alumnus and current Purdue trustee, has contributed $3 million toward the project. An entrepreneur who has built several companies across the United States, Spurgeon most recently served as president and CEO of Lincoln Office in Peoria, Ill.

* Bob and Sally Weist of Chicago. The Weists contributed $1 million to the Mackey renovations. 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.

Members of the steering committee were recognized at today's men's basketball game during a halftime presentation.

Purdue civil engineering alumni and faculty also were recognized Saturday for redesigning the complex. Students designed the new facilities between 2001 and 2004 while taking civil engineering senior design classes.

"It's been very rewarding for the students," said civil engineering professor Robert Jacko. "The courses were held every fall semester, and we had a total of about 250 students over those years working on this project. Each semester we tackled different portions of the project."

The courses were taught each year by Jacko and Antonio Bobet, an associate professor of civil engineering. Other faculty members involved included Loring Nies, Darcy Bullock, Mark Bowman and Andrew Tarko.

"I appreciate Dr. Jacko, his colleagues and students for thinking outside the box on how to improve Mackey," Burke said. "Their excellent work offers more proof that Purdue has among the best academic programs to match our top athletics."

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.


  • Loading Tweets...
    1 second ago