Mercyhurst Announces Largest Gift in School History, Launch of Laker for Life Campaign, Major Construction to Begin this Summer
Mercyhurst University today announced a $9.5 million Campaign for athletics that promises to be a game-changer for its 600 varsity student-athletes. The announcement, made by President Michael Victor at a press conference, kicks off “Laker for Life: The Campaign for Athletics,” a public fundraiser for the Laker athletic programs.
To support the Laker for Life Campaign, please visit mercyhurst.edu/LakerForLife for more information.
To kickstart the campaign, William and Betsy Vorsheck have gifted $4 million, the largest alumni gift in school history. Betsy Hirt Vorsheck is a 1973 Mercyhurst Prep graduate as well as a 1977 graduate of Mercyhurst University. In recognition of the magnitude of their generosity, Mercyhurst intends to name its new and upgraded facilities The William Vorsheck Jr. Athletic Complex.
Mercyhurst Trustee and Athletics Campaign Chair John Saxon has gifted an additional $1 million toward the campaign. His donation is targeted toward improvements at Tullio Field, situated within what will become known as Saxon Stadium.
“We are extraordinarily grateful to Bill and Betsy Vorsheck and John and Patty Saxon for making an investment that will heighten the athletics experience for our fans and student-athletes and further enhance the Carpe Diem spirit that is signature Mercyhurst,” said President Michael T. Victor. “As two institutions born of the mission of the Sisters of Mercy, Mercyhurst and Mercyhurst Prep celebrate a unique partnership that further aligns our commitment to each other and to our respective communities.”
Besides enriching the varsity student-athlete experience for all 600 athletes, the campaign will create opportunities for more students to participate in club sports and intramurals, generate enrollment growth for both institutions, and improve the overall fan experience.
“The launch of the Laker for Life Campaign signifies a new direction and vision for Mercyhurst Athletics,” said Brad Davis, Director of Athletics. “Because of the generous donations of the Vorsheck and Saxon families and the commitment to athletics from President Victor, Mercyhurst will transform its athletic programs and significantly enhance the student-athlete experience. We look forward to beginning our facility improvements this summer.”
Shared features of the campaign include:
The William Vorsheck Jr. Athletic Complex and Saxon Stadium Upgrades
A third turf field added as Mercyhurst University and Mercyhurst Prep partner on a brand-new turf field on the hill next to the Sisters of Mercy. The field will be lighted and bring each schools’ softball home games to campus for the first time. MU’s soccer, lacrosse and field hockey teams will use it as a practice facility, and may also play occasional games at the venue.
The addition of new synthetic turf surfaces to the multi-purpose field in Saxon Stadium (currently Tullio Field), which serves football, lacrosse and field hockey, and the baseball/soccer field; as well as aesthetic and safety improvements to enhance the spectator experience. While plans are still being finalized, plans include changes to the overall seating, baseball backstop, and bullpens.
Installation of LED lighting at the complex, which will afford extended time for practices and games
The Mercyhurst Ice Center
This summer, Mercyhurst will invest in upgrades to the facility’s current cooling system, and the addition of new dasher boards, glass, flooring and seating to improve the spectator experience. The cooling system will be upgraded for the first time since the Ice Center opened, while the facility will receive a visual face lift with new paint and graphics. A second Zamboni and a more spacious Zamboni room will also be included.
Future plans call for expanded VIP space and luxury suites, new chairback seats to replace the bleachers and an enlarged press box.
Expansion of locker room facilities to improve the experience for both schools as well as youth leagues and other groups that use the Mercyhurst Ice Center. The upgrades will provide permanent locker rooms for softball and women’s soccer.
The Mercyhurst Athletic Complex
Major overhaul of the gym, including a new and expanded gym floor, removal of the facility’s stage, seating renovations, and new scoreboards.
Improvements to training facilities on campus used by the highly accomplished rowing programs at both Mercyhurst and Mercyhurst Prep, including upgrades to the tanks used in winter training.
Improvements to the Fitness and Recreation Center.
Mercyhurst University maintains 25 varsity sports, the most of any institution in the region, with more than 25 percent of its students participating in athletics. Further, its student-athletes maintain consistent success in the classroom, leading the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) with an Academic Success Rate (ASR) of 89 percent, according to most recent calculations. The Lakers led the PSAC in ASR for the fourth time in five years.