Midway University hosts groundbreaking for new field house
A ceremonial groundbreaking for Midway University’s new Hunter Field House was also an opportunity to celebrate its transformation from a women’s college to a coeducational university with a growing enrollment.
This transformation began when Midway University’s Board of Trustees made a “historic and bold decision” in May 2016 to welcome women and men on campus for daytime classes to ensure the institution’s future, said President Dr. John Marsden.
“The expansion of athletics for women and men has spurred our phenomenal growth, and subsequently highlighted the need for additional facilities,” Marsden told those attending the groundbreaking ceremony and name reveal Thursday, Nov. 8.
The 20,000 square-foot Hunter Field House will serve the university’s entire student body – not just student-athletes, Marsden said. He said the field house will be constructed near the McManus Student Center for easy access by all.
“Construction is set to begin immediately,” said Marsden. “…with a target completion date at the end of 2019 and a grand opening for the building in the spring 2020 semester.”
The Hunter Field House will become the home of Midway University’s athletic staff and coaches as well providing an auxiliary gym, an elevated walking track, two additional locker rooms, a recruitment conference room “and a much-needed weight and cardio room,” Marsden said.
The field house will be built on a site now occupied by two tennis courts, but “we are fully committed to our tennis program,” Marsden said. He noted future planning will include the addition of two new tennis courts.
Before recognizing those in attendance who helped Midway University amass 90 percent of the pledges needed to successfully complete its Campaign of Opportunities, Board of Trustees Chair Donna Moore Campbell said, “We did face some challenging times not so long ago.”
“Breaking ground on this new field house is a wonderful way for us to celebrate what has been accomplished by so many people’s hard work, and the support of those who continue to believe in Midway University.”
A gift from Jan Hunter, board of trustees vice chair, and her husband, Richard, launched a Campaign of Opportunities to raise dollars to move forward with the construction of a field house. The $5 million capital campaign also includes the construction of a baseball field on a nearby site and upgrades to the university’s residence halls in the coming years.
After helping to unveil a sign identifying the future location of the Hunter Field House, Jan Hunter said, “This is an institution worth investing in.”
In the fall of 2016, Midway University welcomed its largest-ever incoming class of students, Marsden said. Enrollment for the institution’s daytime program has steadily climbed from 432 students in 2016 to 482 students in 2017 and 571 students this fall, he said.
Combined with its dual credit, online evening programs and graduate student enrollment, Midway University now has a total of 1,668 students, Marsden said. His words were met with applause from those attending the Hunter Field House groundbreaking ceremony.
“There’s a great synergy going on between what’s happening with our city and with our university,” said Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift.
“John Marsden said it best to me recently, ‘What’s good for the city is good for the university.’ And I think it’s also fair to say, ‘What’s good for the university is good for the city.’”
He described Midway University’s growth as incredible, and said seeing more students in and around downtown Midway as “really, really helpful for the city.”