Skidmore receives gift from McCaffery-Wagman-Wachenheim families supporting health and wellness – Saratogian

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Skidmore College is creating a new campus center for health, wellness, fitness, tennis and athletics thanks to a gift from a family that has long supported the college.

Ed and Sue Wachenheim P’85, ’88, ’01; Amy Wachenheim McCaffery ’01 and Michael McCaffery; and College Trustee Kim Wachenheim Wagman ’88, P’15, and David Wagman P’15—a multigenerational family with strong support for Skidmore—are offering the lead gift to advance this project.

The new center will bring together all aspects of student health and wellness support – including mental health and counseling; health promotion and education; physical fitness; and wellness in mind, body and spirit – in a holistic approach to student health within one complex on the Skidmore campus.

“We recognize that the health and well-being of students is paramount in college today. Our family is proud to support Skidmore College in its efforts to support and strengthen students in all aspects of their lives, from mental health to physical fitness to athletics,” Kim Wachenheim Wagman said in a press release.

“We have a special relationship with the college’s tennis program and student-athletes,” added Amy Wachenheim McCaffery.

President Mark K. Connor expressed appreciation for the family’s continued support.

“Through their decades of involvement with Skidmore, the Wachenheim family has developed a deep understanding of the College’s evolving needs. Their generosity reflects not only their deep and abiding connection to the institution, but also an exciting vision for the future of health, wellness, tennis and athletics here,” he said in the release. “This transformative gift will enable us to realize our aspiration to support thriving and successful Skidmore students through an integrated, holistic approach to health and wellness.”

The new structure, which will be built alongside the existing Williamson Athletic Center, will house the Skidmore Health Center, Counseling Center and Health Promotion Office, which are currently located in satellite spaces on campus. The new fitness center will serve the entire Skidmore community and will combine state-of-the-art equipment, including free weights and cardio, with dedicated exercise spaces and wellness programs such as yoga, meditation, group fitness, martial arts and spin.

In addition, a National Collegiate Athletic Association-caliber tennis complex – featuring eight outdoor tennis courts and four indoor courts, varsity athletic training spaces and additional athletic support – will form a major part of the project.

“This is a long-awaited project that will support everyone in the Skidmore community,” Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Director of Athletics Gail Cummings-Danson said in the release. “We are committed to a facility that is welcoming and accessible to all. Diversity, equity, inclusion and sustainability will be the guiding principles of this project.”

New locker rooms and team meeting rooms will renew the college’s commitment to the student-athlete experience at Skidmore while investing in athletic facilities for all. The current fitness center will be repurposed as a training facility exclusively for varsity athletics, allowing dedicated space and programming for athletes while creating space for fitness users to relax.

Major support for the project was made possible by a generous gift from Susan Kettering Williamson ’59, for whom the Williamson Sports Center is named. This gift specifically supports the tennis complex, which will be adjacent to the proposed health and wellness center. The new outdoor courts are scheduled to be completed in 2023.

Conner said the entire project, which will be LEED certified in keeping with Skidmore’s longstanding commitment to sustainability, could be completed as early as 2024.

The announcement follows the completion of a comprehensive campus master plan by the community college earlier this year. The Skidmore Board of Trustees gave preliminary approval to the project in October and will review and finalize plans at its next meeting in February 2023.

In addition to supporting Wachenheim Field, the Porter/Wachenheim Scholarships in Science and Mathematics, and the Wachenheim Gallery at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, which bear the family’s name, the family has given to the Billie Tisch Center for Integrated Sciences, the Skidmore Fund, the Friends of Skidmore Athletics and the Skidmore Endowment. With this gift, that legacy continues.

“The Wachenheim family’s support of Skidmore over the years has impacted nearly every aspect of student life on campus,” Connor said in the release. “They are truly one of the great Skidmore families supporting our mission to educate students and prepare students for lives of impactful and responsible citizenship.”

A rendering presents an aerial view of the proposed health, wellness, fitness, tennis and athletics center. (CannonDesign)

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