Marquette alumni couple launches $10 million challenge gift to integrate campus health and wellness services

Marquette University's recreation facilities see more than 212,000 annual visits.

An anonymous couple is committing $10 million to improve Marquette University’s campus health and wellness services.

The gift from the unnamed alumni couple is designed as a challenge grant that will allow the university to house the university’s fitness and recreation, medical services and mental health services together under one roof, Marquette said in an announcement Tuesday.

The couple has already contributed a $5 million lead gift and committed to giving another $5 million when the university raises $10 million in new gifts and pledges.

“Thanks to the leadership of our generous donors, we have an urgent opportunity to significantly enhance the student experience and shape a culture of wellness at Marquette,” Marquette president Michael Lovell said. “We aspire to be among the healthiest campuses in the world, and that starts with cultivating the mind, body and spirit of our students and our community.”

As part of the university’s campus master plan, leaders are “exploring integrating services, including bringing together the campus’ fitness and recreation facilities with the Counseling Center and the Marquette University Medical Clinic,” all of which are currently dispersed across campus.

Marquette’s largest rec facility, Helfaer Recreation Center, was constructed in 1974. The university’s Rec Plex in Straz Tower opened in 1993. Together, the two spaces log more than 212,000 annual visits by students, faculty, staff and community members, Marquette said.

The university also noted the growing demand for mental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic, citing a national study that found half of college students in fall 2020 screened positive for depression and/or anxiety.

At Marquette, the Counseling Center did 5,448 telehealth visits during the 2020-’21 academic year, up from 5,096 the prior year.

“The guiding principle shaping our vision for health and wellness is the Jesuit tenet of cura personalis, or care for the whole person,” said Dr. Xavier Cole, vice president for student affairs. “The global pandemic has shined a spotlight on health inequities as well as the urgent need to provide visible wraparound health and wellness services. We can take a big step forward by further emphasizing healthy behaviors and reducing barriers for academic success.”

The gift continues the university’s $750 million Time to Rise campaign progress, which last month surpassed $500 million in funds raised.

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