Sept. 18, 2009
Editor’s Note: The University of Iowa dedicated the P. Sue Beckwith, M.D., Boathouse Friday afternoon. The new home of the UI women’s rowing team is located on the eastern bank of the Iowa River, just north of the current location of Hancher Auditorium.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — As a former University of Iowa women’s basketball letterwinner, Sue Beckwith knows something about being part of a disciplined squad focused on a common goal. But when she started rowing recreationally years later, she really came to understand teamwork.
“Rowing is a wonderful, difficult sport, the ultimate team sport,” said Beckwith, a Des Moines surgeon. “In basketball, you can take over and take the ball and do something. With rowing, you have to mirror everybody else and do the exact same thing that everybody else does. It’s just a tremendous sport.”
That appreciation for rowing led her to a Hawkeye rowing practice early one morning. The strength and determination of the student-athletes she saw that day — and the facility in which they trained so hard to represent their University — left a powerful impression.
“Rowing is a wonderful, difficult sport, the ultimate team sport. In basketball, you can take over and take the ball and do something. With rowing, you have to mirror everybody else and do the exact same thing that everybody else does. It’s just a tremendous sport.”
P. Sue Beckwith, M.D.
Now, Beckwith has forever altered the future of UI athletics and generations of student-athletes. With the help of her leadership gift to the University of Iowa Foundation, the P. Sue Beckwith, M.D., Boathouse has been built and was dedicated earlier today.
Lynette Marshall, president and CEO of the UI Foundation, hailed Beckwith’s generosity and vision at the dedication.
“Sue Beckwith is devoted to our women student-athletes,” Marshall said. “Her magnificent gift transformed the boathouse project and is an example of the power of women’s philanthropy. The P. Sue Beckwith, M.D., Boathouse is the very first building on campus named solely after a woman benefactor. She is a model for all of us.”
Beckwith, who earned two degrees from the UI (1980 B.A., 1984 M.D.), is a member of the UI Foundation Board of Directors and is an avid Hawkeye athletics supporter and fan. She was motivated to make a gift by her loyalty for her alma mater, her respect for the rowers and their coaches, and — most of all — by the dire need for the rowing team to have a permanent home.
“The team has been housed in the Iowa Advanced Technology Laboratories. When I visited their practice, the rowers had thrown tarps and pads on the floor in between the boats to do their warm-ups,” Beckwith recalls. “There were no restroom facilities, no locker room facilities. We’re not talking about the kids not having some oak-paneled lounge with big-screen TV’s. They had nothing.”
Thanks to leadership from Beckwith — who has also endowed athletic scholarships for Hawkeye rowers and women’s basketball players — that has now changed.
Gary Barta, director of UI athletics, also spoke at the dedication ceremony.
“I’ve often said that vision without resources is irrelevant,” Barta said. “Sue Beckwith’s incredible support made this vision and project relevant. We’re so grateful for her leadership and support. Without her, this building simply wouldn’t exist.”
The P. Sue Beckwith, M.D., Boathouse, built to sustain flooding, is a 20,000-square-foot facility built right on the bank of the Iowa River off of Dubuque Street in Terrill Mill Park. It features a large ergonomics room that will house the team’s rowing machines, four large boat bays, a state-of-the-art rowing tank that features moving water at various training speeds, and locker room and medical training space. The building also features a beautiful river view terrace and community room that can be used by University and community groups for gatherings. In addition to the UI Rowing team, the building houses the UI men’s club rowing team and the Old Capitol Rowing Club, a community-based rowing organization administered by UI Recreational Services.
To learn more about the facility, visit uifoundation.org/boathouse.