Skidmore announces lead gift from McCaffery-Wagman-Wachenheim families supporting health and wellness

Ella Castle

A rendering presents an aerial view of the proposed health, wellness, fitness, tennis, and athletics center. Story Links SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.–Skidmore College is embarking on a new health, wellness, fitness, tennis, and athletics center, with the generous support of a family who has long supported the College.  […]

A rendering presents an aerial view of the proposed health, wellness, fitness, tennis, and athletics center.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.–Skidmore College is embarking on a new health, wellness, fitness, tennis, and athletics center, with the generous support of a family who has long supported the College. 

Ed and Sue Wachenheim P’85, ’88, ’01; Amy Wachenheim McCaffery ’01 and Michael McCaffery; and College Trustee Kim Wachenheim Wagman ’88, P’15, and David Wagman P’15, a multigenerational family with a legacy of strong support for Skidmore, are offering the lead gift to advance this important project. The new center will bring together all aspects of student health and wellness support — including mental health and counseling; health promotion and education; physical fitness; and wellness across the mind, body, and spirit — in a holistic approach to student health within a single complex on Skidmore’s campus. 

“We recognize that student health and wellness are of the utmost importance on college campuses today. Our family is proud to support Skidmore College in its efforts to sustain and strengthen students in all aspects of their lives, from mental health to physical fitness to athletics,” said Kim Wachenheim Wagman. 

“We have a special connection with the College’s tennis program and student-athletes,” added Amy Wachenheim McCaffery. 

A rendering shows the front of the proposed new facility.

A rendering shows the front of the proposed facility.

President Marc C. Conner expressed appreciation for the family’s continued support. 

“Over their decades of engagement with Skidmore, the Wachenheim family has developed a keen understanding of the College’s evolving needs. Their generosity reflects not only their deep and ongoing connection to the institution, but also an exciting vision for the future of health, wellness, tennis, and athletics here,” said President Conner. “This transformational gift will enable us to realize our aspiration to support thriving and successful Skidmore students through an integrated, holistic approach to health and wellness.” 

The new structure, to be built alongside the existing Williamson Sports Center, will include Skidmore’s Health Center, the Counseling Center, and Office of Health Promotions, currently located in satellite spaces across campus. The new fitness center will serve the entire Skidmore community and combine state-of-the-art equipment, including free weights and cardio, with dedicated spaces for exercise and wellness programming such as yoga, meditation, group fitness, martial arts, and spin. In addition, an NCAA-caliber tennis complex — including eight outdoor tennis courts and four indoor courts, varsity athletic training spaces, and additional athletic support — will form a major part of the project.  

“This is a long-awaited project that will support everyone in the Skidmore community,” said Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Director of Athletics Gail Cummings-Danson. “We are committed to a facility that is welcoming and accessible to all. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and sustainability will be the guiding principles of this project.” 

New locker rooms and team meeting rooms will renew the College’s commitment to the student-athlete experience at Skidmore while investing in athletics facilities for all. The current fitness center will be repurposed as a training facility exclusively for varsity athletics, enabling more dedicated space and programming for athletes while simultaneously creating space for recreational fitness users.  

Foundational support for the project was made possible by a generous gift from Susan Kettering Williamson ’59, for whom the Williamson Sports Center is named. That gift specifically supports the tennis complex that will be adjacent to the proposed health and wellness center. The new outdoor courts are scheduled to be completed in 2023. 

President Conner said the entire project, which will be LEED-certified in line with Skidmore’s longstanding commitment to sustainability, could be finished as early as 2024. 

The announcement follows the completion of a comprehensive Campus Master Plan by the College community earlier this year. Skidmore’s Board of Trustees provided preliminary approval to the project in October and will review and finalize plans at its next meeting in February 2023. 

In addition to supporting the Wachenheim Field, Porter/Wachenheim Scholarships in Science and Mathematics, and the Wachenheim Gallery at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, which bear the family’s name, the family has given generously to the Billie Tisch Center for Integrated Sciences, the Skidmore Fund, the Friends of Skidmore Athletics, and Skidmore’s endowment. With this gift, that legacy continues.   

“The Wachenheim family’s support of Skidmore over the years has impacted nearly every aspect of student life on campus,” said President Conner. “They are truly one of the great Skidmore families, supporting our mission of educating undergraduates and preparing students for lives of impactful and responsible citizenship.” 

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