Sport and fitness center to be named in honor of McDowells

Pitt-Bradford will name its sport and fitness center in honor of President Emeritus Dr. Richard McDowell and his wife, Ruth.

Pitt-Bradford will name its sport and fitness center in honor of President Emeritus Dr. Richard McDowell and his wife, Ruth.

The University of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees approved the naming of the Dr. Richard and Ruth McDowell Sport and Fitness Center at its meeting today in Pittsburgh.

The sport and fitness center opened in the fall of 2002 and includes the KOA Arena, the Kenneth M. Jadlowiec Fitness Center, an exercise studio, the Tom L. McDowell Fieldhouse (named in honor of McDowell’s father), the Paul C. Duke III Aquatic Center, offices, classrooms and athletic training facilities.

“I am tremendously pleased that one of the most vibrant buildings on campus will carry the name of a vibrant leader,” said Dr. Livingston Alexander, Pitt-Bradford’s president. “Dr. McDowell’s unrelenting enthusiasm, optimism and dedication carried Pitt-Bradford into the 21st century, well poised for the national recognition we’re seeing today.”

McDowell served as president of Pitt-Bradford from 1973 to 2002, leading it through the process to gain baccalaureate degree-granting status in 1979 and expanding the physical campus and the student body to 1,200.

The Hon. John Cleland, who served as chairman of the Pitt-Bradford Advisory Board from 1995 to 2005, said, “It is more than fitting that Dick receive this honor. The campus is largely his vision, and his legacy is being duly recognized. And certainly, Ruth has been Dick’s partner for many years, and it’s appropriate that they are recognized together for the team they are.”

When McDowell became president at age 29, he was the youngest college president in the nation. Prior to becoming president, he served the university in several capacities, including assistant to the president for academic affairs, director of admissions and as a faculty member.

William Higie became chairman of the advisory board a year after McDowell became president.

“It certainly is well-deserved,” Higie said. “We struggled through twenty years together. We needed somebody like Dick McDowell who could just get things done well.”

Following his retirement as president, McDowell taught courses in leadership and fundraising at Pitt-Bradford. He holds a bachelor’s degree from High Point University and a master’s and doctor of philosophy degree from St. Louis University. In 1996 High Point University awarded Dr. McDowell an Honorary Doctorate. In 2001 he was awarded the Pitt-Bradford Alumni Association Teaching Excellence Award, and in 2002, he was recognized for his support of athletics by induction into Pitt-Bradford’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

Over the years, the McDowells have supported a wide range of important initiatives at the Bradford campus. They established the Pitt-Bradford Athletics Endowment; joined with other donors and relatives of Dr. McDowell to create the Zelda N. Hyatt Undergraduate Student Research Fund; and gave generously to the Bradford Education Foundation at Pitt-Bradford, specifically for grants to expand and revolutionize the availability and use of technology throughout the curriculum for all majors across the Bradford Campus.