UM Dedicates Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence
34,000-square-foot Cutting-Edge Facility Emphasizes Academics, Training
University of Miami donors, trustees, coaches, administrators, and guests gathered on October 4, when UM dedicated the Theodore G. and Todd G. Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence — a facility that will serve UM’s more than 400 student-athletes with resources such as a new academic center and expanded training facilities. A lead gift by father and son Theodore G. and Todd G. Schwartz made the $14.7 million center possible.
More than 400 other donors made gifts to a Schwartz Center brick campaign and more than 80 made donations of substantial amounts, including the following: Ray and Fredrica Applebaum (Student-Athlete Study Lounge); Dr. Ed & Joanne Dauer (Physician's Exam Suite); Paul J. DiMare (Gallery of Champions); Barbara Havenick (Champions Plaza and Fountain); Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Football Players Locker Room); Robert A. Mann (Auditorium); Paul and Adrianne Mittentag (Rehabilitation Suite); Scott Mueller (Champions Walkway); Jerry & Sharron Putnam (Football Coaches Locker Room); Jason and Mark Squillante (Strength and Conditioning Center); Sylvester Foundation (HydroTherapy Suite) and Jonathan Vilma (Football Players Lounge).
Among the Center's features:
• The Paul J. DiMare Gallery of Champions, which showcases individual and team titles, such as UM’s five national championships in football, as well as awards like the Heisman Trophies won by former Hurricanes Gino Torretta and Vinny Testaverde.
• A new football locker room made possible by a gift from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who played at UM before his successful wrestling and Hollywood acting careers.
During the dedication event, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, right, joined President Shalala in presenting Todd and Ted Schwartz with a special certificate thanking the father and son for the gift to UM.
• An academic center with new computers, study rooms, and the 140-seat Robert & Lauren Mann Auditorium.
• An expansion of the existing Isadore Hecht Athletic Center to include a state-of-the-art sports medicine and training area
Designed by AECOM and built by Moss Construction, the center is located on the north side of the Hecht Center, a facility dedicated in 1979, that also ushered in a new era for Hurricane athletics. Members of the Hecht family, longtime supporters of Hurricane athletics, attended the Schwartz Center dedication ceremony. The Hecht family’s partnership of giving extends generations. Florence Hecht, a longtime UM Trustee, and her husband Isidore, both deceased, made significant contributions to multiple areas at the University. Continuing the family tradition, their daughter, Barbara Havenick, a double UM alumna and current trustee, is a donor to the Schwartz Center, having named the front plaza of the building.
Todd Schwartz said the facility is just what UM needs to stand toe-to-toe on a level playing field with larger state schools. “We saw the impact of the nursing school [gift] and thought that a center like this would have a similar impact.” He was referring to the transformational gift made in 1999 by UM trustee M. Christine Schwartz and Theodore “Ted” Schwartz to build a new facility for UM’s nursing school.
The Paul J. DiMare Gallery of Champions that showcases individual and team titles, such as UM’s five national championships in football, as well as awards like the Heisman Trophies won by former Hurricanes Gino Torretta and Vinny Testaverde.
His family’s passion for UM goes back to 1964, when his father, Ted, happened to watch a UM football game on a Chicago-area TV station and fell in love with the institution.
“When I grew up in Chicago, I grew up in a sea of Notre Dame fans,” Ted Schwartz explained. “One day, for some reason, they televised a University of Miami game, and I was captivated at 10 years old by the old Orange Bowl, and seeing the palm trees by the scoreboard and the U on the helmet. Something just registered in my brain that day, and I’ve been a Hurricane fan ever since.”
At the dedication, UM President Donna E. Shalala described the center as a “home away from home for our student-athletes.”
“They train here, play here, and even receive world-class health care,” she said.
Director of Athletics Blake James called it “an investment in our student-athletes that will pay dividends for years to come.”
UM coaches are describing the facility as a major recruiting tool. “We’ve already had student-athletes visit the campus, and our first stop was to the Schwartz Center to emphasize the great academic environment that we have here,” said men’s basketball coach Jim Larrañaga.
Women’s basketball coach Katie Meier agrees, noting that coaches on her staff give every recruit a tour of the facility. “We’ve done some things online to showcase it as well,” she said. “It’s definitely helping us in recruiting. We ought to be able to say you can’t get treated any better than you can at the University of Miami—and now we can honestly say that.”
This project is part of Momentum2: The Breakthrough Campaign for the University of Miami, which seeks to advance learning, elevate scholarship, and make bold strides in health care in the community, across the country, and around the world by raising $1.6 billion. Momentum2 comes on the heels of the institution’s record-breaking Momentum: The Campaign for the University of Miami, which concluded at the end of 2007 and raised more than $1.4 billion for endowed chairs and professorships, scholarships, facilities, academic and medical programs, and other initiatives.