Florida Atlantic University has received its largest donation in the 50-year history of the school, when it announced Tuesday that The Schmidt Family Foundation donated $16 million towards a new Academic and Athletic Complex.
The Schmidt Family Complex for Academic and Athletic Excellence will play a central role in elevating FAU’s academic standing and will benefit students in all academic programs, including those not associated with athletic programs.
“The Foundation believes Florida Atlantic University — our university right here in Boca Raton — is poised for greatness,” long-time FAU benefactor Dick Schmidt said. “As a community, we understand that to compete at the highest levels, in and out of the classroom, students must have access to premier facilities.”
The 185,000 square foot Complex will feature indoor and outdoor football fields, a wellness center, sports medicine center, new and improved weightlifting rooms, and many other amenities. The total cost for the facility expected to fall within the $45-50 million range.
The Schmidt Foundation has already donated $1 million to the project and has pledged to donate $5 million more in each of the next three years. However, the university is already looking for ways to fund the remaining $34 million.
“We are going to work aggressively as possible to finish fundraising for this project,” said FAU athletic director Pat Chun on funding for the center. “We’re hopeful over the course of the next few weeks or months we’ll have some follow-up announcements.”
The building, which will utilize the first floor of the newly constructed parking garage and the area adjacent to FAU stadium, will replace The Tom Oxley Athletic Center, which the football program has called home since 2001, as the university’s athletic center.
The new complex will also allow all FAU sports teams more flexibility in their practice schedules and study times.
With all 21 FAU sports teams using The Oxley Center, and the lack of an indoor football field, it is very difficult for all the student-athletes and teams to practice without conflicting schedules.
FAU will join Florida State University and University of Central Florida as the only Florida schools to have an indoor practice facility, which football head coach Charlie Partridge explained is needed because of the frequent thunderstorms that strike South Florida during the summer, causing them to cancel practice, or practice early in the morning.
“We practice in the mornings to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms,” said Partridge. “The indoor practice field will give us a chance to compete on a national scale as we move forward.”
“I think it greatly affects us as well,” said FAU women’s basketball coach Kellie Lewis-Jay. “When we look at scheduling and being able to get in the weight room at different times, it will greatly impact our day-to-day operations.”
“We’ve outgrown The Oxley Center,” continued Partridge. “This new complex is a game-changer and it changes everything for our student-athletes.”
The plan is to have the complex completed by the time the Class of 2018 are seniors, “We want to move rather quickly,” affirmed FAU’s President Dr. John Kelly.
Kelly, who came to FAU from Atlantic Coast Conference powerhouse Clemson, knows first-hand what a successful football program can bring to a university, “The academic side can benefit greatly from the athletic side,” explained Kelly.
Kelly also believes FAU become a premier academic establishment.
“With a main campus less than two miles from some of the country’s most pristine coastline, FAU has enormous potential and will become an irresistible draw for the best and brightest students,” Kelly said. “We’re going to play to win — and that means in the classroom and on the field.”
“FAU will be recognized as this country’s next great university,” he added.
Source: Boca Raton Tribune