New rec center opens at W&J

Gideon Bradshaw
Observer Reporter

 Washington & Jefferson College officially opened a new 30,000-square-foot recreation center Friday.

The James David Ross Recreation Center – the first of its kind in the school’s 236-year history – is part of a $100 milllion project that includes construction and upgrades to other college buildings.

“All of this is great, and no doubt it will continue to help us attract great athletes who participate in W&J’s extracurricular sports,” said David Ross, whose donation enabled the project. He added “most importantly” the new center will provide students at the school a place to work out and stay in shape.

The center is named for Ross’ family. A 1978 graduate of the college, Ross lives in Great Falls, Va., and is the founder of the Washington, D.C.,-area developer Atlantic Realty.

The addition on the Henry Memorial Gymnasium houses new offices and recruiting spaces for the athletic department.

The new facility includes a 167-meter, three-lane track; three athletic courts with markings for basketball, volleyball and tennis; a wrestling room and a general exercise room.

College President Tori Haring-Smith credited Ross – a member of the college’s property, building and grounds committee and trustee – with spearheading the project, which is an addition to Henry Memorial Gymnasium, located at the corner of North Lincoln and East Chestnut streets.

The college broke ground on the center in October 2015, Haring-Smith said.

“At that time we were looking out on crumbling tennis courts and rusty fences,” Haring-Smith told observers of the brief ceremony. “What a transformation.”

The project was part of a more than $100 million fundraising campaign aimed at growing the school’s endowment and making improvements to facilities on the campus.

The campaign also funded the construction of Janet Swanson Tennis Center, which opened in September 2015, and renovations of the Dieter-Porter Life Sciences Building.

Upgrades of the U. Grant Miller Library are also planned.