$8 Million Gift Launches Athletics Capital Renovations and Expansion

An ambitious renovation and expansion of the Goodman Campus Athletics Complex has now been launched thanks to an anonymous $8 million gift made by parents of a current Lehigh student-athlete.

The gift will provide for the renovation and expansion of the Cundey Varsity House, and also allow the university to move forward on design plans for a new indoor field facility, which will be located on Goodman Drive South directly behind the varsity house.

Together, these two projects will comprise an ambitious $30 million capital renovation and expansion of Goodman Campus that will transform the Lehigh Athletics experience.

The Cundey Varsity House will offer a new hub for services and resources for athletes, creating efficiency and building camaraderie and community. Improvements include an expanded sports medicine facility, a new and significantly expanded strength training area, a high-tech pitching and hitting facility, a student-athlete nutrition lounge and new or improved locker room facilities for all of the Lehigh sports programs based on the Goodman Campus.

In the new field facility, athletes will be able to train year-round, regardless of the weather, substantially increasing their capacity to enhance their skills and perform at the highest level, both individually and as a team. The new indoor field facility will house a roughly 94,000-square-foot turf field, able to accommodate full-scale training for all Lehigh field sports, including lacrosse, soccer, field hockey, and football. Baseball and softball will also be able to conduct full indoor practices.

Together, these projects will help Lehigh athletes become even more competitive and build the reputation of our programs, and help recruit and retain talented student-athletes looking for opportunities to play their very best. In addition, because these projects increase the physical training space for our athletes, access to facilities space becomes more abundant for club sports and recreational activities for all Lehigh students.

President Joseph J. Helble ’82 thanked the anonymous donors for their generosity and example. “It’s obvious that these donors have great appreciation for the work we are doing in Athletics. They understand that by elevating our facilities and our capabilities, we can do an even better and more distinctive job in terms of developing our student-athletes,” he said. “They also know that this investment will serve as a catalyst, inspiring others to invest in our plans for the future.”

Murray H. Goodman Dean of Athletics Joseph Sterrett ’76 ’78G ’03P ’05P ’07P ’09P said the Goodman Campus facilities projects will elevate the development of student-athletes just like the new Health, Science, and Technology building elevates interdisciplinary research, or the new Hitch, Maida, and Singleton residence halls elevate student life.

“This is about giving our athletes the opportunity to develop and become the best they can be. On the academic side, we ensure our students, whether they are in the sciences, business, design, or another discipline, have the laboratory spaces, tools , and resources that allow them to learn, experiment, and make mistakes — and grow from them — as much as possible. It’s the same principle with Athletics.”

As the parent of a Lehigh athlete, the anonymous donor said, “I’m inspired by the athletics here and inspired by what Lehigh does to produce leaders that will ultimately have an impact on our country going forward.”

He believes the lessons learned through Athletics are valuable personally and professionally. “One of the greatest concepts that Athletics teaches is the concept of ‘failing forward,'” he explained. “In every contest, half the people playing are always going to lose. In a league or a tournament, 90% of the people are not going to get what they want. And when you don’t, it can be painful.

“Athletics done right is a foundation that catapults you into being better at embracing those moments,” he went on. “It teaches you something about confidence, about your ability to emotionally understand the anguish of not always coming out on top, and that prepares you for life, because life is a journey. Athletics is an incredible microcosm of what life is, and you’ re playing it in your very formative years.”

A belief in giving back sparked the philanthropy. “I come from the mentality that of whom much is given, much is required. I want to give, because of all that I have been granted in life. And there is also a feeling of personal and corporate citizenship, of wanting to invest in academia and in the institutions that are producing our future leaders.”

Other gifts have already been made to these projects, and this gift has already begun to inspire others to consider their support as well. Athletics is seeking a total of $30 million in philanthropic gifts from alumni and friends to bring the vision to fruition.

Sterrett agreed the gift is motivating. “These anonymous donors said, “We see what you want to do, we want to inspire others, and we want to help you inspire others,” said Sterrett. “This flexibility, coupled with an understanding and a belief in the big picture, makes this a very special, very distinctive commitment of philanthropy.”

For more information about Goodman Campus capital renovation projects and ways to support them, contact Mike Garzillo, director of development, at mag316@lehigh.edu or (610) 758-1497.