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Northwestern University Trustee J. Landis Martin and his wife, Sharon, have committed $15 million to support athletics and recreation at the school, including new facilities planned for the north end of the Evanston campus.

This brings the total of major gifts pledged in support of the current campaign to more than $70 million, according to a university news release.

In recognition of this latest gift, Northwestern plans to name the soccer and lacrosse stadium at the university’s lakeside athletics complex for the Martins, who are prominent philanthropists in the Denver area.

The new gift comes less than two weeks after NU President Morton Schapiro announced on the eve of the Gator Bowl football game in Jacksonville that some $55 million had been raised for university athletics and recreation since the trustees had approved plans for the new athletic facilities in September.

“With the Wildcats’ breakthrough Gator Bowl victory,” said Mr. Martin, “now is the right time to help Northwestern create a world-class athletics and recreation complex worthy of our Big Ten university and our student athletes.”

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Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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4 Comments

  1. Go ‘Cats!

    As a lifelong Evanston resident who grew up in the shadow of Northwestern, I'm thrilled to see the upward trajectory of this football program. They are an asset to Evanston, and the national recognition the team brings is invaluable. Just re-upped our season tickets–here's to hoping for a Big Ten championship in the near future. Go 'Cats, and In Fitz We Trust!

  2. Sports or education?

    NU seems to want the university to be known for its ‘professional sports’ [football, basketball]—that is in fact what it is.

    Millions to fund these does little or nothing to promote the health of the students and certainly not a well rounded education.

    On the other hand they want their reputation to be built on preparing journalists, actors and musicians for JOBS.

    As for making the university’s national reputation, Parsons College made its reputation on football—I don’t think many would consider that a reputation to be sought after.

    NU does have the school of engineering and science that it should be devoting its resources to.  Yes even though the liberal arts program has been made a joke by offering majors in every possible fad major and few of the students in these will ever find jobs or even any personal benefit from devoting their time and $$ to these, at least most have to take enough real courses to gain something from them.

    1. Really?

      I think it's more than a little disingenuous to suggest that by building new facilities, Northwestern is sacrificing its academic mission in order to build a reputation as a football powerhouse. I really doubt that there's anyone outside of Evanston who thinks of NU as a sports-first school.

      Universities across the country– large research isntitutions to small liberal arts colleges– are investing in athletic facilities, student centers, student residences, and a host of other facilities that go beyond narrowly-defined academic uses. They're investing in the campus atmosphere and in resources that extend beyond academics in order to differentiate themselves and attract desirable students. It's not a Northwestern thing, and sports is a big part of building that culture. Every single other Big Ten university has upgraded its football practice and game-day facilities since 1997, the last time Northwestern made any significant changes (and many on the backs of their states' taxpayers, unlike Northwestern).

      And that noted sports-crazed school out east, Harvard, just announced last fall that they were building a new basketball arena and renovating their football stadium. Is Harvard staking its national reputation on sports, or are they providing facilities that are generally expected in a well-rounded college environment?

      The article you're commenting on discusses a $15 million gift from alumni that's intended for this project and this project alone– money that presumably wouldn't have been given to Northwestern otherwise. You can question the wisdom of the donors, you can question the value of the project in your own eyes, you can doubt the wisdom or the sustainability of the strategy. But the university gambled that they could boost their athletic facilities on the strength of alumni donations and without dipping into general funds for the student body, and so far it looks like they were right. It's a little silly to leap to the conclusion that building a fitness facility with donated money is taking anything away from anyone.

      Meanwhile, Northwestern is also in the midst of expanding the Technological Institute on Sheridan Road, the latest in its mid-north campus building projects over the last decade that have included at least three new buildings dedicated to science and engineering education and research, which you seem to think is being neglected. It's almost as if NU thinks they can invest in both successfully, and that the choice between sports and job training that you're presenting is false and counterproductive.

      Having graduated from Northwestern in recent years with two liberal arts majors– one of them probably something you'd consider a fad not worthy of my time– I'm proud to say that I'm both gainfully employed and capable of using my liberal arts education to see how ridiculous your comment is.

    2. This just in

      This just in – University officials and wealthy trustees realize what they do with their own money is none of Anonymous business.  One staffer close to the subject was quoted, saying "as soon as Anonymous comes up with a $15 million endowment, he wil be able to tell us exactly what we "should be devoting [our] resources to."  Until that day comes, he does not have to attend our school, or support our programs.  While he is welcome to his opinion, his disdain for our sports program, which is being veiled by his concern for the "health of the students" is nothing short of fearmongering."

      In other news, Ponzi attended a city council meeting and was unhappy with the mayor.

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