A new gift from former Providence College Board of Trustees Chair Michael A. Ruane ’71 & ’13Hon. and his wife, Elizabeth Ruane, will enable Providence College to begin construction of the Ruane Friar Development Center, a new multi-purpose facility that will significantly enhance Friar athletics, student services, and College community life.
Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. ’80, PC’s president, announced today that the College will begin construction on Phase I in 2016, to include a new two-story structure attached to Alumni Hall. That facility will include a basketball practice facility and space for associated Department of Athletics activities.
A portion of the gift also will support program enhancements to help Friar athletics teams compete for championships and strive for excellence.
Combined with a commitment to create the Michael A. Ruane Distinguished Chair in Economics, announced last Thursday, this gift is the largest the College has received from a living alumnus. It represents a leadership investment in Providence College and its future, from a family renowned for its commitment to PC.
“We owe much of what Providence College has become — and what it will be in the future — to Mike, Liz, and the Ruane family,” said Father Shanley. “Through their example and their generosity, they inspire us to strive to be the best, and this facility will help us succeed at the highest level.”
“This gift from Mike and Liz will be essential for our student-athletes to have continued success on the national level,” said Robert G. Driscoll, Jr., associate vice president and director of athletics. “This construction project represents the culmination of investments over the last decade, allowing us to create state-of-the-art facilities for all our athletics teams and helping us to capture BIG EAST and national championships.”
After graduating from PC in 1971 with an economics degree, Michael Ruane earned an M.B.A. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the founding owner, chair, and managing partner of Boston-based TA Realty, one of the nation’s largest real estate investment advisory firms.
In addition to two faculty chairs — one in economics and one in business — the Ruanes have provided unprecedented support to PC over the years. The Ruane Center for the Humanities, dedicated in 2013, is named for them, as is the Ruane Atrium at Concannon Fitness Center.
“Providence College has extraordinary coaches and other leaders in place, fostering the teamwork that drives success,” Ruane said. “By providing the facilities that match or exceed those of our competitors, and by challenging our student-athletes to improve every day, we will see a continuation of the excellence and upward trajectory that characterize the College community and its athletics programs.”
In addition to the basketball practice facility, Ruane Friar Development Center Phase I includes the construction of an atrium spanning Alumni Hall and Slavin Center, along with other infrastructure improvements. It will set the stage for Phase II, to feature a new Center for Career Education and Professional Development and an expanded, renovated ’64 Hall (the College’s largest function facility, located in Slavin Center).
Construction on Phase I, pegged at nearly $30 million, will begin in 2016, with completion expected in late summer 2017. Phase II, estimated at $7.5 million, will be scheduled for a time that will maximize efficiency relative to work on Phase I and will minimize disruption to student life and activities.
“This is an exciting time for Friar men’s basketball and our entire athletics department,” said men’s basketball coach Ed Cooley. “We appreciate the generosity of Mike and Liz and all the Friar fans who have made this possible with their support. Having great facilities is imperative in helping the development and growth of our student-athletes.”
Noting that the biggest impact of the Phase I project will be on the men’s basketball, women’s basketball, and volleyball programs, Driscoll pointed out that student-athletes from other sports also will benefit from access to the facility, as it will promote academic success, team-building, skills development, conditioning, and wellness.
In addition to the two-court practice facility, Phase I will include an athletic training center, offices, a new Friar Athletics Hall of Fame, and a dining room.
“Mike and Liz have consistently worked to promote the advancement of student-athletes and programs for both women and men,” Driscoll said. “In that context, it is particularly fitting that the Ruane Friar Development Center will provide wide-ranging benefits for student-athletes across all of our programs.”
The project will expand the venerable Alumni Hall to the west, with glass facades that complement the adjacent exteriors of Slavin Center and Concannon Fitness Center. The atrium will create a welcoming, informal gathering space for the College community, and the large entrance patio will become a useful multi-purpose outdoor location that will serve as an impressive backdrop to the Ray Treacy Track facility.
Taken as a whole, this new commitment from the Ruanes provides a powerful example, according to Gregory T. Waldron, senior vice president for institutional advancement.
“The Ruanes recognize the complementary nature of all elements of the PC experience, be they academic or athletic, and they strategically invest to move the College forward,” Waldron said.
He also pointed to the ongoing collaboration among several campus partners in advancing this initiative, specifically crediting Senior Vice President for Business and Finance/CFO John M. Sweeney, Driscoll, and Steven R. Napolillo ’98, senior associate athletic director for external relations.
“It is always great to be part of a team effort,” Waldron said.
Driscoll echoed Waldron’s comments, noting that strong academic programs and facilities help coaches recruit top-notch student-athletes and ensure the kind of academic experience that will help those students find success throughout their lives.
— Joseph F. Carr ’83