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Springfield College Dedicates Stitzer YMCA Center, Hosts Luncheon for YMCA Leaders
Springfield College dedicated the new Stitzer YMCA Center before an audience of YMCA leaders from around the world, members of the Stitzer family, the campus community, and the public on Thursday, May 19, 2011, in its newly renovated Judd Gymnasia.
Established through lead gifts from the Stitzer family, the Stitzer YMCA Center is a destination site for YMCA professionals and groups from around the world. It includes the Springfield College Office of YMCA Relations, the national YMCA Hall of Fame, the offices of the Association of YMCA Professionals (AYP) and facilities for YMCA meetings and programs. The Springfield College of YMCA Relations coordinates the college's YMCA professional studies program and YMCA Club, and hosts national and international YMCA programs on campus.
The new center is a focal point in Judd Gymnasia, the most historic building on the Springfield College campus, which was reopened after complete renovation in October 2010. Erland Construction, Inc. and Stephen Jablonski Architects worked with the college on the renovation. The Victorian structure was refurbished to a state-of-the-art facility, while preserving its original character. Embedded in its 1894 exterior masonry is the logo of the YMCA Training School, a previous name of Springfield College.
In attendance at the dedication were members of the Stitzer family, including brothers Todd, Mark, and Tim, whose father, Howard, was a lifetime YMCA professional. Todd has served the College as a corporator or Board of Trustees member since 1984. Tim Stitzer attended Springfield College and has been a longtime YMCA professional.
Speaking for the Stitzer family, Todd Stitzer said, “The defining values of the YMCA, and of Springfield College as a premier educator of YMCA leaders, have profoundly influenced our family. It is our hope that this new center will help empower present and future YMCA professionals to maximize their potential in service to all members of our society. And in honoring the visionaries who shaped the YMCA movement, it will perpetuate their principles.”
Springfield College President Richard B. Flynn said, “It is a proud moment to join with the Stitzer family as we advance more than a century of partnership between Springfield College and the YMCA movement. The facilities and services within the new Stitzer YMCA Center will enable us to build upon our history of educating future YMCA leaders, expand services to current YMCA professionals, and celebrate the shared ideals of the College, the Y and the Stitzer family. It is fitting that the new center is located in the oldest building on the campus, a landmark with significance to us all, and that we have been able to preserve and newly equip it for today’s programming.”
Also in attendance at the formal dedication and a luncheon that followed were Neil Nicoll, president and chief executive officer of the YMCA of the USA and a Springfield College graduate; Jack Lund, president and chief executive officer of the YMCA of Greater New York and a Springfield College graduate; chief executive officers of YMCAs throughout the country; YMCA Hall of Fame members Robert Hoffman, Prescott Johnson, and Harold Smith; Springfield College alumni who are current and former YMCA employees; and representatives of YMCA of the USA and AYP.
At the luncheon, Flynn presented commemorative gifts to the Stitzer family and Lund. Harry Rock, director of YMCA Relations at Springfield College, spoke about the longstanding relationship between the College and the YMCA, calling the day historic. He thanked Flynn and Nicoll “for continuing the relationship” between the College and the YMCA. Springfield College and the YMCA have had a long and collaborative history, while being separate and independent organizations. The college, founded in 1885, quickly emerged as an educator of YMCA leaders. Springfield College and the YMCA have an ongoing partnership agreement and the YMCA of the USA has named Springfield College a premier Leadership Development Center. YUSA also provides on-going support to the College’s Office of YMCA Relations.
Rock urged those affiliated with YMCAs to send their young people to the College “because we know that the strength of the YMCA movement is all about the staff, the employees, and the people who care about your organization. And if you don’t have caring, committed, passionate people running your YMCAs, you have nothing to deliver to your communities. We have that in our students.” The College offers undergraduate programs to prepare students for YMCA careers, and maintains a matching scholarship program with YMCAs around the country for YMCA career-track students. For current YMCA staff members, the Springfield College School of Human Services offers bachelor’s and master’s degree programs with weekend classes at the main campus and regional campuses around the country. Enrollment is also open to other human services workers.
The newly renovated Judd Gymnasia, including the Stitzer YMCA Center, recently received the 2011 Paul E. Tsongas Award from Preservation Massachusetts, which recognizes Massachusetts colleges, universities and preparatory schools for preservation of their historic resources for the benefit of future generations of students. It also received a Preservation Award from the Springfield Preservation Trust, which recognizes those who are maintaining and restoring buildings that reflect architectural and cultural heritage.