ASHLAND, Ohio – Monetary gifts from several longtime supporters of Ashland University will allow the AU Athletic Department to construct a loge, a center and office inside Kates Gymnasium in AU's Physical Education Center.
"This project will feature the construction of a loge behind the end of the basketball court on the lobby side of Kates Gymnasium," said AU Director of Athletics Al King. "The loge will be able to accommodate approximately 40 people and it will have a glass window that will look out onto the court."
The project, which is expected to be completed during the summer of 2019, is being supported by a gift from the Jan Rinehart Estate as well as gifts from AU alumnus Rob Ward, Class of 1987, and AU alumna Mindy Rinehart Ward, Class of 1989 and 1993; AU alumnus Sherrill Hudson, Class of 1965; and AU alumnus and longtime staff member Stan Miller, Class of 1970 and 1977.
"The loge will be called 'The Rinehart Room,' and will honor the memory of Dr. Don Rinehart and his wife, Jan, who were both ardent AU athletic supporters for many years," King said. Don, Class of 1959, 1965 and 1970, was a beloved professor in the Religion Department for many years and also served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, while Jan, Class of 1959 and 1978, was a longtime professor in the College of Education.
"As an athletic department it's been a dream of ours to develop this area of Kates Gymnasium. Thanks to these generous gifts, that dream has become a reality. This area will benefit all of our programs, student-athletes and the community," King said. "It's an exceptional way to honor the Rineharts, who were tremendous friends and mentors of our coaches, staff members and student-athletes. Don and Jan unselfishly gave their time to make all of us in Athletic Department better and I'm delighted that this project will carry their name."
King said the Rinehart Room will be used on game days for pre-game and post-game activities for volleyball, wrestling and men's and women's basketball. "This area also will be utilized for press conferences, department meetings, recruiting visits, alumni and community engagement events and special events/retreats by area businesses," he said.
King said the total project will include the "Mary C. Miller Student-Athlete Enrichment Center," which will be constructed adjacent to the Rinehart Room.
This center is being named for Mary Clevenger Miller, Class of 1971 and 1984, who served as a professor within the Dauch College of Business & Economics for 30 years as well as an academic adviser for several AU athletic teams. Miller also won the Taylor Teaching Award and the Raymond W. Bixler Award as well as Female Faculty Member of the Year twice during her years at AU.
"This area will include an office for the director of Academic Support Services for Athletics and next door to that office will be a study lounge that also will be utilized by AU's Student-Athlete Advisory Council," King said. "This center for Student-Athlete Enrichment opens many new avenues for us. Our goal has always been to be a national leader in NCAA Division II Athletics in the classroom, in the community and on the playing field and this facility will give us the means to expand what we do with our academic program. The possibilities here are endless. This is the first step on an exciting journey."
King noted that the director of Academic Support Services for Athletics is a new position and one that is involved in a wide range of pursuits concerning academic performance, retention and counseling. "Ashland University has over 530 student-athletes and this area will provide tools to assist them as they prepare for the future," he said.
Ashland University, ranked in the top tier of colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report's National Universities category for 2018, is a mid-sized, comprehensive private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Religiously affiliated with the Brethren Church, Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) deeply values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.