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Tom Maher ’77 is a man who likes to give back. He’s also looking forward to swimming in the college’s new pool. So who better to cover the cost of filling it, he asked himself?

Maher Makes a Splash

The finishing touches of the $26-million expanded and renovated Mulva Family Fitness & Sports Center include filling the new swimming pool on the east side of the facility, looking out to the Fox River. Thanks to Tom Maher ’77, that’s covered.

“I’m buying the water,” says Maher, president/CEO and franchise owner of Manpower of Dayton Inc. “We rounded it out to $3,000. That’s a lot of water. Maybe they are just going to pump it in from the river. I’m not sure how they do it.” (In fact, the pool is filled with good clean City of De Pere mains water.)

Maher is a swimmer, so paying for the first pool-fill seems fitting. He previously donated funds for two study rooms, including one located in the Gehl-Mulva Science Center.

“In life, ideally there are three stages – learning, earning and returning,” says Maher. “If you are in a position to give back, it’s a great thing. The sports center is fantastic. I remember the old Van Dyke Gym. When I look back at the facilities in the late 70s when I was there, to the changes on campus today, it’s amazing.” 

Maher’s service to St. Norbert goes beyond donor support. Since 2005, he has been a member of the board of trustees. He has regularly returned to campus, not only for board meetings, but also class reunions. He will be back for his final meeting as a trustee on graduation weekend. 

President (Tom) Kunkel and I are leaving together,” he says with a laugh. “He’s a heck of a guy. I enjoy the Norbertines, so it’s always nice to come back. I hope to stay active.”

Maher plans to not only see the pool, but take a swim if possible. 

“I have to check out my water,” he says. “It’s eventually going to evaporate, so someone is going to have to donate the next fill. I have no idea how long my water will last.”

Maher jokingly adds that he and Phil Oswald (College Advancement) are still negotiating over how to recognize Maher’s water donation.

“I think there should be a floating Styrofoam block in the pool with my name on it,” says Maher, who is pleased that St. Norbert is adding men’s and women’s swim programs.

“No, no floating marker,” says Oswald, “but recognition on the donor wall. Maybe Tom and I will have a moment for a miniature model-boat launch and a lap around the pool. The SS Elmer (Maher’s campus nickname) has a ring to it.”

In all seriousness, Maher has been a well-regarded trustee with a highly developed sense of communio, says Oswald. Endeavors such as the new sports center (on the site of the old Schuldes Sports Center) would not be possible without so many supporters stepping forward, he adds.

“In almost all of the building projects over the past 10 years, it has taken donors, big and small, to bring the project to completion,” says Oswald. “Many alums and friends have contributed to the Mulva Family Fitness & Sports Center unsolicited. Our donors for the center have also been trans-generational. I think that is because all of our friends know this is the last building of the ‘Kunkel Era,’ and every alumnus over the past 37 years (outside of the Class of 2016 when construction was underway) has walked across the stage in the Schuldes Sports Center at Commencement.”


April 4, 2017