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Lanny and Sharon Martin Give $15M to Athletics Campaign

With latest gift, support for Northwestern athletics tops $70 million

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January 14, 2013 | by Alan K. Cubbage

EVANSTON, Ill. --- J. Landis (Lanny) and Sharon Martin have committed $15 million to support Northwestern University’s campaign for athletics and recreation, bringing the total of major gifts pledged in support of this campaign to more than $70 million.

In recognition of the gift, Northwestern will name the soccer and lacrosse stadium at the University’s new lakeside athletics complex for the Martins. The existing stadium will be significantly renovated to provide a superior training and competition venue for student-athletes and an upgraded experience for fans.

Approved by the Northwestern Board of Trustees in September, plans for the athletics complex resulted from a multi-year planning process led by Northwestern Vice President for Athletics and Recreation Jim Phillips. The plans serve as the basis for a fundraising campaign, which, in addition to these facilities, includes support for financial aid and varsity, intramural and recreational athletics programs.

The Martins’ gift offers momentous support for two sports that have seen tremendous success in recent years. Northwestern has become a dynasty in women’s lacrosse, having won seven NCAA National Championships in the past eight years. In 2012, the men’s soccer team captured its second consecutive Big Ten title while qualifying for its seventh NCAA tournament appearance.

The Martins have been important donors to Northwestern for more than 30 years. Their support has included creating the J. Landis Martin Professorship of Law and Business as well as generous gifts to the Law School Fund and the Bienen School of Music Fund.

"We are deeply grateful for Lanny and Sharon’s generous investment in the University's future," said Northwestern President Morton Schapiro. "The gift recognizes that athletics play a pivotal role in the life of the University, and the benefits of the new complex will extend to the entire Northwestern community.”

News of their latest donation comes only days after President Schapiro announced an unprecedented series of gifts -- more than $55 million -- in support of the campaign for athletics and recreation. President Schapiro made his announcement on New Year’s Eve, the day before Northwestern’s victory in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl.

Read the full story on the series of earlier gifts.

Lanny Martin, a Northwestern University trustee, received his B.S. in business from Northwestern University in 1968 and his J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law in 1973. While there, he served as an editor of the Northwestern University Law Review.

He is founder and managing director of Platte River Equity in Denver. He founded the firm in 2005 after spending more than 18 years as CEO of industrial, chemical and metals companies. Prior to launching Platte River Equity, he was chairman and CEO of Titanium Metals Corporation. He also served in the U.S. Army.

Lanny Martin was inducted into the Colorado Business Hall of Fame in 2012. In 2010, he was honored with the Josef Korbel Humanitarian Award for the many significant philanthropic contributions he has made to the Denver community.

Sharon Martin earned her B.A. from Denison University, where she served for a decade as a trustee. Sharon has been a leader in the Denver arts community for more than 30 years. She and Lanny Martin have three children (Mary Lester; Sarah Stettner, who received an undergraduate degree from Northwestern in 2002 and a J.D. from the School of Law in 2007, and Emily Martin, who received degrees from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in 2008 and 2011) and two grandchildren.

"With the Wildcats' breakthrough Gator Bowl victory, now is the right time to help Northwestern create a world-class athletics and recreation complex worthy of our Big Ten university and our student-athletes,” Lanny Martin said. “Sharon and I couldn't be more pleased to support Northwestern’s athletics program, which is such an asset for the entire Northwestern community."

Plans for the new and renovated sports facilities were revealed four months ago. They will be located next to the shore of Lake Michigan at the north end of Northwestern’s Evanston campus.

Due to the rapid response and exceptional generosity of donors, a design competition for the facilities is already under way and will conclude in the summer of 2013. The winning design will be selected from the submissions by a group of architectural firms with substantial accomplishments in designing collegiate sports and recreational facilities.

“We cannot possibly thank the Martins enough for their generosity in support of this transformational period for Northwestern athletics and recreation,” Phillips said. “Their contribution will play a pivotal role in our commitment to providing a world-class experience academically, socially and athletically for our student-athletes.”

With spectacular views of Lake Michigan, the complex will include Ryan Fieldhouse, which will seat hundreds of spectators and bring together students from across campus for non-sporting events, as well as provide space for athletics practice. The complex also will provide other new, enhanced and renovated recreational and competition venues.

Guided by Northwestern’s long-term planning for development of the Evanston campus, the plan calls for making great use of limited space to improve athletics programs and to bring together students, faculty and staff for recreational activities, such as aerobics and yoga, club sports and intramurals.

The athletics complex will take full advantage of Northwestern’s lakeside setting and be integrated into the life of the University.

The new facilities will bring unprecedented opportunities to accelerate the momentum of Wildcat athletics. Northwestern teams have been on a roll, including a fifth consecutive bowl game appearance, national and Big Ten championships and rising attendance for games. At the same time, Northwestern is a national leader in graduation rates for student-athletes.

Highlights of the Planned Athletics Complex

• Ryan Fieldhouse, a large, indoor multi-purpose facility for major events, such as the annual new student convocation and Dance Marathon; Wilson Field, an indoor practice and competition surface for intercollegiate sports, and space for recreation, club sports and intramurals.

• A new facility that will contain 1,125 parking spaces, fitness studios, weight rooms and other areas for exercise and recreation on the first floor.

• Enhancements to the soccer and lacrosse stadium and the field hockey practice and competition venues.

• Renovation and additions to the existing Dellora A. and Lester J. Norris Aquatics Center and Henry Crown Sports Pavilion will include new training venues for Northwestern's varsity sports, a new diving well, new locker rooms, sports medicine facilities, meeting rooms, a new weight room and offices.

Previous gifts for the athletics and recreation campaign announced Dec. 31 include:

• A lead gift from Patrick G. Ryan, former chair of the Northwestern Board of Trustees and a 1959 Northwestern graduate, and Shirley Welsh Ryan, a 1961 Northwestern graduate.

• A significant gift from Stephen R. Wilson, who received an undergraduate degree from Northwestern in 1970 and a master’s degree from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management in 1974, and Susan K. Wilson, a 1970 Northwestern graduate.

• A major gift by Edward “Chap” Hutcheson, Jr., a 1968 Northwestern graduate, and Ethel E. Hutcheson. 

• A major gift by Robert A. “Bob” Unger, a 1969 Northwestern graduate, and Betsey Unger.

Lanny Martin, Chap Hutcheson and Bob Unger were fraternity brothers at Northwestern.

Topics: University