Staying physically fit, active and inspired by the world around them is a way of life for Dallas and Edye Pankowski, who enjoy downhill skiing, biking, hiking and adventure-based trips.
It stands to reason then that Dallas, an alum, and Edye, a Menomonie native, are supporting the upcoming Recreation Complex renovation at University of Wisconsin-Stout with a gift of $5 million — the largest in university history. Their hope: Inspire students and others to be active and pursue a healthy lifestyle.
The gift will provide one-sixth of the cost for the $30.5 million project and create a new welcome and community space named in honor of the Pankowskis. The 2,700-square-foot addition will be on the west side of the Sports and Fitness Center, just south of the adjoining Johnson Fieldhouse.
About 2,000 people a day from students to staff to community members to Athletics recruits and other potential new students could pass through the space.
“We were impressed by the overall design, the asset that it would be to the university and the community, and we have a strong interest in health, wellness and physical fitness,” Dallas said. “It’s a fairly large atrium that would really dress up the building.”
The Pankowskis, from Plover, near Stevens Point, originally committed $4 million in 2018 to Stout University Foundation as an estate gift. However, they hadn’t decided how they wanted the gift to be used. After hearing about the funding opportunity to enhance the Recreation Complex, they chose it for their original gift and added $1 million.
“We really believe in athletics and recreation as part of the university program,” Dallas said.
The Pankowskis were on campus recently when their gift was announced at the Stout University Foundation’s annual scholarship reception, and they received a standing ovation. The Foundation announced more than 400 scholarships totaling $1.2 million; the Pankowskis also sponsor two of those scholarships annually for STEM students.
“Their gift and legacy will be truly transformational in its power to attract and retain students and serve the broader community,” Chancellor Katherine Frank said.
“Dallas and Edye immediately recognized the importance of this project to our campus and to the community and stepped forward to participate in and further enhance the building and the co-curricular experience for our students,” Frank added.
The Pankowski-named space, including a lounge and retail area, will create a new, central entryway to the Sports and Fitness Center, which includes student recreation facilities, and to Johnson Fieldhouse.
Without the gift, the space would not have been included in the project. The other $25.5 million will come from student segregated fees. In 2019, students voted in a Stout Student Association advisory referendum to approve raising fees for the project. It includes:
- A new, larger cardio and strength-training facility, 10,000 square feet, on the west side for students, next to the Pankowski gathering area
- Renovating the old swimming pool, which was closed in 2018, and replacing it with a multiuse gym for recreation
- Expanded and upgraded locker rooms for students
- Moving the Athletics weight room to the former student fitness facility
- Creating multiuse studio spaces in the current Athletics weight room.