For the second time in less than eight months, Ohio Wesleyan University has received an $8 million commitment to fund the renovation of a campus building.
The latest contribution comes from Louis A. Simpson, Ohio Wesleyan Class of 1958, and his wife and business partner, Kimberly K. Querrey. Their contribution is the lead gift in the renovation of the former Pfeiffer Natatorium, which opened in 1954. Construction of the Simpson Querrey Fitness Center is expected to begin this fall. Simpson retired at the end of 2010 as President and CEO Capital Operations of GEICO Corporation, having managed investments for GEICO for 31 years.
The state-of-the-art fitness center will include space for cardiovascular equipment as well as multipurpose fitness and wellness education rooms. The center also will feature a spacious dance studio and renovated classroom and office space for the Department of Health and Human Kinetics.
“In talking with Lou and Kimberly about this gift, I was struck not only by their obvious generosity but also by the deliberation with which they chose to help Ohio Wesleyan build a new fitness center,” said President Rock Jones, Ph.D. “Lou and Kimberly were drawn to the opportunity to help students live longer, more productive, and more fulfilling lives.”
Simpson said, “The education I received at Ohio Wesleyan—and the professors and people I met there—gave me a solid foundation for the rest of my life.”
Querrey said she also was motivated by the fact that nearly 80 percent of OWU students participate in organized recreational activities, such as intramurals, club sports, and varsity athletics. As a former athlete, she said it is important to learn the spirit of competition and to develop healthy lifelong habits to integrate mind, body, and spirit.
Creation of the Simpson Querrey Fitness Center also will enable Ohio Wesleyan to add a new south entrance to campus that provides a more visible gateway for visitors. Preliminary plans call for the former Pfeiffer Natatorium, 105 S. Sandusky St., to be wrapped in brown brick to match the adjoining Edwards Gymnasium and to be topped with a new red clay tile roof that mimics the newly restored gymnasium roof. The renovation will open up the flow between the two buildings, creating a comprehensive, connected facility.
Work to refurbish Edwards Gymnasium began in 2012 and has included adding a modern weight room, restoring a second-floor basketball court, and refurbishing a skylight that previously had been boarded over. The gymnasium opened during the 1905-1906 academic year, and its restoration is considered Phase One of the larger effort that includes the soon-to-be-built fitness center.
“Ohio Wesleyan is going to be a noisy, busy, exciting, extraordinary place in the coming months,” President Jones said. “Beginning in May, we will use our first $8 million gift—from an anonymous alumni couple—to renovate Merrick Hall in support of the teaching and learning innovation provided by our OWU Connection curricular initiative. Soon after, we will begin work to realize Lou and Kimberly’s vision of the Simpson Querrey Fitness Center.”
Simpson, who majored in economics and accounting at Ohio Wesleyan, was awarded an honorary degree—Doctorate of Laws—from the university in October 2013 in recognition of his significant achievements in the field of economics.
He contributed an additional $2 million to the university in 2013, creating The Louis A. Simpson ’58 Endowed Faculty Director of The Woltemade Center for Economics, Business and Entrepreneurship. The center works to enhance teaching, learning, research, and community service at Ohio Wesleyan, focusing on the Department of Economics. Learn more about giving to the university at owu.edu/waystogive.