Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Chancellor Julie Furst-Bowe and Director of Athletics Brad Hewitt dedicated the new Lukas Athletics Annex today. An enthusiastic throng that consisted of University Foundation board members, University administrators, faculty, staff and student-athletes crowded into the main lobby for the ribbon-cutting.
The $5.4 million facility, which is connected to the Vadalabene Center on campus, was made possible through a $4.2 million donation by the Charles S. and Mary L. Lukas Estate. The late couple’s nephew, Bill Lukas, and his wife, Janet, joined in the celebration.
“First, I must thank the family of Charles and Mary Lukas for their generosity and their trust in SIUE’s stewardship,” Furst-Bowe said. “We appreciate this special gift and the opportunities it offers for faculty, staff and students.
“This Annex is a tangible reminder of the expansion the University is undergoing in both academics and athletics. It’s important to our standing within the NCAA and the Ohio Valley Conference that our facilities reflect our dedication to excellence.”
In remarking about the beauty of the new facility, Hewitt reminded everyone that the Annex embraces the Lukas’ formal wishes, noting, “Their support is always to be used to build, renovate or improve any University facility and express their belief in the everlasting impact of an education.”
“If Charles and Mary could be here today, they would be beaming with pride,” Bill Lukas said. “My uncle never had the chance for a formal education, so his financial support to provide educational opportunities for others makes up for that.”
Head cross country coach Eileen McAllister provided an athletics department staff perspective. “I can’t begin to express how much this means to all of us,” she said. “Our productivity has increased 100-fold. Our camaraderie is stronger than ever, and we’ve already experienced the impact on our recruiting visits.”
Cougar Student-Athlete Advisory Committee President Clark Schmidt was excited and proud to represent his fellow student-athletes. “Positive change has occurred within the department during my career,” stated Schmidt, who is a senior on the Cougars golf team. “The people change as new and more talented recruits arrive every year. The facilities have grown and improved. We listen to Dr. Hewitt’s philosophies about being successful in Division I, so we believe that we can win; we know we can win; and we will win.”
The three-level Annex has more than 29,000 square feet available for programming and office space. The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics moved into the ground floor in late October. The top floor will provide teaching, research and computer laboratory needs for the Department of Kinesiology. The bottom floor will house a strength and conditioning area. They are scheduled to be completed during summer 2013.
Release Courtesy SIUE Marketing and Communications