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Record Mulva Family Gift Makes Possible New Fitness and Sports Center at St. Norbert College

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From St. Norbert College, April 28, 2016
by Mike Counter,, 920-403-3089

De Pere residents James J. and Miriam B. Mulva have donated $13 million to St. Norbert College toward a major expansion and renovation of its Schuldes Sports Center. The gift marks the largest individual contribution to St. Norbert in the 118-year history of the college.

In recognition of the Mulvas' generosity, the new facility will be named the Mulva Family Fitness and Sports Center. Schuldes, which opened in 1979, has witnessed many significant moments in the college's history, but it has been showing its age and recreational limitations for some years now.

"We are delighted to be able to help toward building the new Family Fitness and Sports Center," said Miriam Mulva, speaking for the couple. "It is difficult to have a swim team without a pool, and a state-of-the-art fitness center is paramount to students when they are unable to work-out due to the Wisconsin weather. Stressing the wellness aspect of preventative medicine was also something which we thought was very important. It seemed to us that the Fitness and Sports Center was the last piece of the building puzzle which St. Norbert needed to give the students the total educational experience."

"Jim and Miriam's passion and generosity have been crucial to making this an exemplary 21st-century college campus," said St. Norbert College president Thomas Kunkel. "The Mulva Family Fitness and Sports Center will be another transformational resource for us, in that it will affect the lives of almost every student and employee on our campus, and in the most positive of ways. We are incredibly grateful."

Construction on the Mulva Family Fitness and Sports Center began April 1. It is scheduled to be finished in May 2017. When complete, the center will have grown from its current size of 80,000 square feet to almost 130,000 square feet. The project's total cost will be about $26 million.

Anchoring the new center will be a competition-grade swimming pool and diving area, overlooking the Fox River on the southeast corner of the expanded building. The pool -- the first in the history of the college -- will allow St. Norbert to resurrect its NCAA Division III swimming program. St. Norbert last competed in intercollegiate swimming in 2009.

Another major feature of the facility will be an expansive fitness center, an amenity that, like the pool, St. Norbert College students have long been clamoring for. The fitness center will overlook the pool, with beautiful views of the Fox River, as well as East De Pere beyond. All of the college's health-and wellness-related activities -- including counseling services -- will be incorporated into the new center, in keeping with the philosophy that it will be a resource for the entire campus and not just an athletics site.

The college will retain but upgrade the current gymnasium space, used primarily for basketball and volleyball but also by various Green Knight squads for practice and training. Expanded offices for athletics staff will be housed on a new second floor. The renovation plans also include the razing of the college's human resources building, which is adjacent to the sports center on Third Street.

In order to minimize the disruption to St. Norbert College's athletics department and team schedules, the college has committed to an aggressive 13-month construction calendar. Though every square foot of the existing building is being upgraded or replaced, the facility will be complete in time for commencement in May of 2017. Miron Construction is the general contractor; Performa is the architect and is managing the project for St. Norbert.
Though the Mulva Family Fitness and Sports Center is designed primarily to serve St. Norbert College's current and future students and employees, the college also plans to make it available for select alumni and community usage. Those details are still being worked out and will be announced later this year.

The Schuldes Sports Center, built at a cost of $3.5 million, was dedicated in 1979. It was named for Malcolm Schuldes, who died in 1989 and who contributed nearly $600,000 to the project, and for his late wife, Rose. The Schuldes name and legacy will be appropriately commemorated in the new center.

The Mulva Family Legacy at St. Norbert College: Miriam and Jim Mulva have not only been extraordinarily generous to St. Norbert College; they have contributed more money to the school than any other individuals in its history. Key gifts include:

$11 million for the Mulva Library, which included $1 million for the Mulva Studio, a contemporary, technology-enhanced study space in the facility's lower level. The library opened in 2009.
$12 million for the spectacular Gehl-Mulva Science Center, which was completed in 2015 and which also houses the Green Bay-area campus of the Medical College of Wisconsin.
$13 million for the Mulva Family Fitness and Sports Center.

Beyond that, the Mulvas (and their charitable affiliations) have provided more than $2 million in support of scholarships, the college's annual fund, campus sculpture, staff development and other priorities. In all, the Mulvas have contributed more than $38 million to St. Norbert College.

"Many generations of future students will find their way to St. Norbert College, and every one of them will be in debt to Jim and Miriam," said President Kunkel. "Their commitment to St. Norbert ensures that, for many years to come, we will be offering a first-class educational experience grounded in our Catholic, Norbertine and liberal arts values."

Impact on City of De Pere:

The Mulvas not only have made a significant impact on the blueprint at St. Norbert College, but they are making a similar investment in their hometown. This commitment will be manifest most significantly in their plans to establish a new "cultural center" in East De Pere, near the traffic circle at the foot of the Claude Allouez Bridge.

The multi-story building -- still in the design stage -- will offer a sweeping gallery space designed to host three or four national "traveling" exhibitions each year. It will include recital-type space for performances, readings and lectures; meeting spaces; and a veterans' memorial.

Cost for the cultural center could approach $20 million. Assuming final plans gain approval by the De Pere City Council, the center will be completed by the end of 2018.

About the Naming Donors:

Miriam Mulva, born Miriam Brozyna, grew up close to the college's campus, attended St. Joseph Academy in Green Bay, and graduated from St. Norbert in 1969. She is an active volunteer and a member of the college's board of trustees.

James Mulva is also a De Pere native, whose mother, Phyllis Mulva Martine, worked on the library staff at St. Norbert College. James earned bachelor's and master's degrees in finance from the University of Texas at Austin. A former naval officer, he recently retired as chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips, headquartered in Houston, Texas. James serves on the boards of General Electric, General Motors, Green Bay Packaging and the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, among others.

St. Norbert College Momentum:

The Mulva Family Fitness and Sports Center project continues the momentum of new construction and new academic experiences at St. Norbert College. Since 2009 St. Norbert has opened the Mulva Library; Donald J. Schneider Stadium; the Gries Hall student residence; the Ariens Family Welcome Center; a renovated Todd Wehr Hall; Michels Commons; Dudley Birder Hall (the former St. Boniface Church); the Cassandra Voss Center; the Gehl-Mulva Science Center; and various other campus dormitories and facilities. This amounts to nearly $130 million in donor-funded construction and renovation in less than a decade.

For more on the new Mulva Family Fitness and Sports Center, go to

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