Syracuse University trustee donates $5 million for new campus gym, wellness center
Thursday, May 18, 2017
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse University's Board of Trustees chairman donated $5 million for a new campus recreation and wellness center.
The donation from Steven Barnes, an '82 alumnus, and his wife Deborah will jump-start a major "West Campus" construction project.
The $5 million gift will go toward creating The Barnes Center at The Arch, a "state-of-the-art student-focused health and wellness complex," replacing Archbold and Flanagan Gymnasiums. Archbold was originally built in 1908 and last renovated in 1989, according to SU archives.
Plans for the new recreation center include a rock-climbing wall, elevated running track, multi-use courts and a fitness center.
The renovation also calls for bringing health and counseling services into the center to create a convenient hub for wellness on campus.
SU has not finalized a timeline for construction, a spokesman said.
Barnes, who has served as chairman of the Board of Trustees since 2015, said he and his family wanted to invest in the project because it represents a commitment to support the "whole student" in both academic and extracurricular pursuits.
Barnes, a Chittenango native, said he was the first in his family to attend college. He is now managing director of Bain Capital Private Equity, a Boston firm that manages around $80 billion in assets.
"Syracuse really changed my life and broadened my perspective," Barnes said. "When I think about how I want to leave my mark on this university, it's in the student experience."
Barnes said he believes an easily accessible recreational and wellness center will help serve college students who face anxiety and stress.
He also said he was excited about what he envisions as a beautiful, newly updated building and busy, active place on campus. The project, he said, is one more way to attract the best and most diverse students to SU.
Initial renderings of the building show a multi-story rock-climbing wall visible from the exterior.
The Barnes Center at The Arch is part of SU's 20-year plan, including a blueprint for physical updates called the "Campus Framework," which calls for centralizing the campus on University Hill and better utilizing spaces.
The plans propose creating distinct but connected areas on campus dedicated to things like international communities or recreation.
The West Campus project, which includes recreational spaces such as the Arch and Carrier Dome, is expected to cost around $255 million. University officials previously estimated the Arch itself would cost around $50 million.
The university has not said how the rest of the West Campus project, including the Dome, will be funded.
Barnes' gift is a crucial first step toward raising funds for projects identified in the Campus Framework. Officials have said the proposals will hinge in part on fundraising.
Barnes' previous donations to SU include funds used to create an endowed entrepreneurship professor position at the Whitman School of Management, a bootcamp for veterans with disabilities and a student-run investment portfolio.
Barnes is a 1982 graduate of the Whitman School. He has served on the Board of Trustees since 2008.
He also serves on several boards for charitable organizations in the Boston area. He is a part-owner and board director of the Boston Celtics.