Originally published in UNH Magazine—Spring/Summer 2015 Issue
WRITTEN BY: Kristin Waterfield Duisberg | Communications and Public Affairs
With teams that perennially perform at or near the top of numerous national measures of academic success, UNH has long emphasized the student in student-athlete. And now, there’s a dedicated space on campus where student-athletes can work out their minds between games and practices, trips to the weight room and treatments in the athletic training rom: the Watkins Center for Student-Athlete Excellence.
Located on the second floor of the Field House in space once occupied by five decommissioned squash courts, the new center is open to athletes on the university’s 20 Division I athletic teams as well as students who compete with the UNH-based Northeast Passage adaptive sports program. The wi-fi-enabled space includes a main reading room, modeled after Dimond Library, that provides study space for 72 students, a breakout room for small group study and four offices. A key piece of the university’s overall emphasis on “the whole student,” the facility boasts academic support staff and life skills staff as well as advisers and tutors.
Student-athletes, UNH staff and many of the donors whose generosity made the privately funded space possible were on hand for the official opening of the center on April 14. UNH President Mark Huddleston and athletic director Marty Scarano both acknowledged the Watkins Family Foundation, which provided the lead gift for the $1.9 million facility, and G. Chris Watkins spoke about his vision for the space. “The center will enhance an already great track record of students performing well academically and athletically,” he said.
Men’s ice hockey player Harry Quast ’16 was one of several student-athletes who spoke about the importance of the new center—as well as the gifts that brought it into being. “Just saying thank you for such an unbelievable space hardly seems like enough,” he said. “Your incredibly selfless donations not only affect the athletes here now, but the future athletes who will be lucky enough to wear the UNH logo on their jerseys.”