Morris Gift Creates New Sports Performance Center at UB

By Cynthia Machamer

Release Date: June 28, 2006

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A new sports performance training facility offering twice the space for physical training by University at Buffalo student-athletes will open this fall thanks to a $500,000 gift from UB alumnus Robert G. Morris and his wife, Carol L. Morris.

The new "lab space" for athletes will allow some larger intercollegiate squads, such as the UB Bulls football team, to train as a team for the first time and enhance their ability to compete at the Mid-American Conference championship level.

The Robert G. and Carol L. Morris Sports Performance Center, which will be located adjacent to UB Stadium on the North (Amherst) Campus, will double the space for intercollegiate student-athlete sports performance training from 6,000 square feet to 12,000 square feet. Construction of the facility will begin in July. It is scheduled to open before the end of October.

"My wife, Carol, and I are very pleased to support the efforts of the University at Buffalo Division of Athletics and the vision that President John Simpson and Warde Manuel have shared with us," said Robert Morris, who received a bachelor's degree in economics from UB in 1967.

"That vision, one that promotes the growth of both the individual student-athlete on and off the field, and the positive role that athletics can play as a vital part of the university, is one that we share with great enthusiasm.

"As our student-athletes grow in the outstanding classroom setting that UB offers, it is also critically important that their athletic 'lab space' -- that is, the time they spend conditioning and strengthening themselves -- offers the same opportunity for excellence."

The Morrises previously provided UB with a major gift to establish the Signature Center of Excellence in 21st Century Music. That gift, which also provides support for the university's annual June in Buffalo and a new graduate-student performance group, also will enable the Department of Music in the College of Arts and Sciences to refurbish Baird Hall on UB's North (Amherst) Campus and to purchase and refurbish musical instruments.

"UB is deeply grateful to Bob and Carol Morris for this most recent demonstration of their ongoing commitment to UB -- a gift that will enable our student-athletes to perform to their fullest potential in every aspect of their development as UB students," said UB President John B. Simpson.

"One of the most vital lessons UB teaches our students is the value of committing oneself to achieving one's personal best -- whether in the classroom or laboratory, on the stage or on the field of athletic competition. That ideal, in essence, is also the spirit that guides the vision of excellence we are pursuing through UB 2020 as we continue to set our sights farther for our growth as an institution. The generosity of Bob and Carol Morris is helping us to realize this vision."

Warde J. Manuel, director of the UB Division of Athletics, said "there is no single greater area of importance for the growth and improvement of a student-athlete in college than strength and conditioning. While we want to continue to recruit higher echelon student-athletes, the growth that occurs within them once they are here is tremendously important."

Manuel indicated that the Robert G. and Carol L. Morris Sports Performance Center will be critical to the day-to-day strength and conditioning efforts of the more than 500 student-athletes that wear the Blue and White for the university.

He noted that the facility, which will feature state-of-the-art equipment for both aerobic and strength training, will allow larger intercollegiate squads, like the Bulls' football, rowing and track and field teams, to train as a team, maximizing the time demands of student-athletes.

Robert Morris serves on the Dean's Advisory Council of the UB College of Arts and Sciences and is a new director of the University at Buffalo Foundation. He is a partner and director of equity investments at Lord, Abbett & Co., an independent investment management firm, in Jersey City, N.J., that manages more than $93.5 billion in assets. Before joining Lord, Abbett & Co. in 1991, he was vice president and manager of equity and equity investment research at Chase Manhattan Bank.

The Morris family has a three-generational tie to UB. Robert Morris' parents received degrees from the university and one of his and Carol's sons, Alexander, earned bachelor's and master's degrees in architecture from the university in 1991 and 1994, respectively.