UT Pride – Cemented in Stone

February 6th, 2013 Posted in From Our Alumni

by Patty Gelb

11062012-9229If you didn’t get to a UT Rockets home football game toward the end of last season, then you probably haven’t seen the newly built William and Carol Koester Alumni Pavilion. If not – you MUST make a trip to campus to see this magnificent structure.

Located just west of Glass Bowl Stadium, in the heart of UT’s Main Campus, this new 3,000 square foot lannon stone structure with 9,500 square foot plaza was built, and dedicated, as a new gathering spot in honor of all University of Toledo alumni.

As a new staff member of the University of Toledo, I recently went on a campus tour ending at the new William and Carol Koester Alumni Pavilion. Although I did not attend UT having graduated from East Carolina University, I am married to a diehard UT alumnus who played for the Rockets, was a member of Theta Chi fraternity, and graduated in 1992. There is UT memorabilia around the house. Favorite loungewear we fight over is his 25 year old U of Toledo sweatshirt. It is faded and comfortable and we both love it.

I have been indoctrinated into the University of Toledo spirit! I have tailgated, been to games, wear the “gear.” But I can honestly say I truly have not felt that UT spirit as much as I did on the day I got a tour of the new Koester Pavilion.

Walking up the steps on the west side of the stadium, the view of the Glass Bowl above you is always inspiring and the glimpse of the field through the gates creates a feeling of excitement. You can almost hear the roar of the crowd.

11062012-9203But this time walking up those steps, all I could see was the Koester Pavilion! What an incredible and majestic place for people who love UT to share their pride of the University of Toledo. The first sense noticed when walking into the pavilion is the lovely smell of cedar. The roof of the cathedral ceiling is entirely cedar-lined on the interior. The grand oversized Dr. Lance and Dee Talmage Friendship Fire Pit is the centerpiece which is surrounded by 18 great stone columns that gives the feeling of standing in a large outdoor room. Walking into the pavilion one gets a “woodsy” feeling by the trees that line the back, but when you turn around and see the four story Glass Bowl tower a few feet away, you feel the exhilaration of a fully UT atmosphere.

The outdoor seating, built-in bar, and concession stand ensure the William and Carol Koester Alumni Pavilion is THE place to hang out and get fired up for the game. However it is the plaques around the facility featuring phrases, messages and stories from the donor families that provide the real goose bump moment. The support and dedication required to create this incredible place is truly inspiring. In the words of William Koester, one of the pavilion’s name sakes says it all: “Carol and I saw this pavilion as an opportunity to honor the University of Toledo alumni: People who represent the legacy of this institution and demonstrate the success of its educational mission. We both went to school at UT and just love the place. We wanted to give something back.”

11062012-9278In addition to Koester’s gift, SSOE Group, a global engineering, procurement and construction management firm headquartered in Toledo, made an in-kind contribution donating the architectural design along with all engineering for the pavilion and entry complex. In total, the 13,000 square foot $1.1 million pavilion and plaza has been built with no taxpayer money. Tony Damon, president and CEO of the SSOE Group, congratulated UT on this successful project.

“SSOE has been a proud supporter of the University of Toledo since our founding in 1948,” Damon said. “Our remarkable partnership with the University was built on the legacy of our founder Al Samborn, a 1939 UT Alumnus, whose professionalism and commitment to engineering education was exemplified by his many years teaching at UT. That cooperation continues today as SSOE is one of the largest employers of the university’s engineering students and graduates. Our $94,000 contribution to this project was yet another way for SSOE to show our continued support and gratitude, and when combined with other giving caps a five year program of donations in excess of $700,000.”

11062012-9238The Koester Pavilion sits on a large plaza, named in honor of Chuck and Jackie Sullivan, and comprised of hundreds of bricks donated by UT alumni and friends. Additionally, the Koester Pavilion’s Rocket Station is named in honor of the UT Women & Philanthropy organization. Eighteen named pillars support the structure and 13 named benches ring the plaza’s exterior. In all, more than 100 alumni, organizations and friends of the University have donated $1,000 or more to the effort and thousands of more have contributed. If you are interested in being a part of the William and Carol Koester Alumni Pavilion, you can still purchase a brick that will become a part of the pavilion for life. An 8 X 8 inch brick is $150.00 each and you can personalize your brick. Each brick allows a maximum of three lines, each line containing a max of 12 characters including spaces and punctuation. Click here to go directly to the online order form to purchase a brick at the Pavilion.

And, there is so much more to the William and Carol Koester Alumni Pavilion than just a pre-game hang out. This lovely facility will be used year round for activities and is also available for the community to rent and utilize for various functions. The University of Toledo Alumni Association has already received inquiries to use the facility for graduation parties, university celebrations and weddings (it is a beautiful place for an outdoor wedding). If you are looking to host a family reunion, a party or other outdoor event – you should truly consider the Alumni Pavilion. Rental information will be available shortly. Contact the UT Alumni Association Office at 419-530-2586 or 1-800-235-6766 for more details.

Patty Gelb

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