About $5.66 million has been raised for the Sook Center. 

Ohio University has reached its original fundraising goal to build an academic center for student-athletes.

The university raised about $5.66 million for the proposed Perry and Sandy Sook Academic Center as of February, according to Anthony Reynolds, assistant athletic director for media relations.

“There are also a number of quality gifts which are being finalized which will increase this total shortly,” Reynolds said in an email February.

In December, however, the university said its new goal was to raise $5.8 million for the academic center.

"The project’s original fundraising goal of $5.5 million has been exceeded," Reynolds said in an email. "$5.8 million was subsequently set as a target in order to best cover any potential cost increases due to the possible later start date of the construction project. The current project financial plan is for Athletics to cover a total construction cost of $6 million."
It is unclear why the university's goal is $5.8 million when the total construction cost is $6 million, and as of press time the university had not responded to requests for that information. It also is unclear how much of the money OU Athletics has received versus how much has been pledged.

OU announced its plan for the Sook Center, a tutoring facility for student-athletes that will be at the north end zone of Peden Stadium, in September 2014. The Sooks, both OU alumni, donated $2.25 million to the Ohio University Foundation in June 2014 to kickstart the project, according to a previous Post report.

Nearly 400 donors gave to the center as of February, Reynolds said.

While athletics and many student athletes have expressed excitement about the center, some faculty members have voiced reservations. 

“The Sook Center remains a lightning rod for faculty displeasure with the university’s priorities,” Joe McLaughlin, an associate professor of English and chair of Faculty Senate’s Finance and Facilities Committees, said in an email.

McLaughlin said there are two problems about having the money come from donors.

“The university should be focusing its fundraising activities on issues that are more central to the mission,” McLaughlin said in an email. “There are dozens of more urgent needs.”

McLaughlin said the other problem is that facilities such as the Sook Center come with ongoing costs, including utilities and maintenance.

The plan for the Sook Center is in the process of being approved, Reynolds said in February.

“Once the project is officially approved for construction, that process will begin,” Reynolds said in an email. “We will just have to see how the process proceeds to get a better view on future timing.”

The Sook Center will include a large classroom, computer lab, patio and observation deck, lounge, study rooms, staff offices, learning specialist offices, tutor rooms and a copy room, Reynolds said.

“In this time of budget austerity when we replace outgoing tenure-track faculty with more poorly paid replacements, struggle to deal with critical deferred maintenance issues and do our best to keep costs down for students and their families, financial profligacy like the Sook Center seems extremely misguided,” McLaughlin said in an email.

OU basketball junior forward Antonio Campbell said he would use the Sook Center if it is completed before he graduates. There is no clear timeline for when the center will be ready to use.  

"It will definitely boost our recruiting for football, baseball, basketball, pretty much everything," Campbell said. "That's actually one huge thing that kids coming out of high school look at when they visit: how the facilities are. We already have a nice gym and a nice locker room, so that will set the tone right there."

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Maddie Stackhouse, a freshman studying psychology, was impressed OU Athletics raised the nearly $6 million for the Sook Center.  

“I think (the Sook Center) makes sense," Stackhouse said. "(Student-athletes) don’t have a lot of time to do work, they travel a lot and they probably miss a lot of classes, so it makes sense.”



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