Nearly 12 months after the University added a new aquatic center to its list of capital projects, fundraising efforts by both swimming alumni and the Yale Development Office are well underway. While Yale athletics administrators and Kristin Krebs-Dick ’93, president of the Yale Swimming and Diving Association, are encouraged by recent momentum in fundraising, their $47 million requirement is proving a difficult number to reach.
Yale administrators did not provide an exact figure for the total amount pledged thus far for the pool, but in the winter 2015 issue of ELI magazine, a Yale publication sent to major donors to the University, Yale said that close to $7 million has been contributed.
However, according to an email that Steve Clark ’65, a member of the alumni steering committee formed for the project, sent to other swimming alumni last week, Yale has received approximately $8 million in pledges — slightly more than $5 million from previous fundraising efforts, and about $3 million pledged since University President Peter Salovey met with a group of swimming alumni on March 28, 2014, to begin discussing the project.
Krebs-Dick that fundraising is beginning to see new momentum after about 100 swimming alumni, mostly from the women’s team, came to campus for the celebration of 40 years of Yale women’s swimming and diving during the weekend of Feb. 7 and 8. The weekend also coincided with a Yale Swimming and Diving Association board meeting, in which alumni discussed a broader search for support in fundraising, which is being managed by the Yale Office of Development.
“Everybody agrees that the swimming alumni alone cannot raise the money for this project,” Krebs-Dick said. “If this were only for the varsity swimmers and divers, this would be a $20 million project out by the Yale Bowl or somewhere else. But it is not. It is a student life project, a Yale life, a New Haven life, a Connecticut life project, because of the way that Yale has defined it to be, at the center of campus.”
The same winter 2015 issue of ELI magazine reiterated this multi-use statement, saying that the pool could be used by other varsity teams for conditioning as well as by other Yale and community groups.
Director of Athletic Development Alison Cole ’99, who has managed alumni volunteers and assisted central development officers throughout the fundraising phase, echoed Krebs-Dick’s statement that the past four weeks have seen an increase in fundraising activity. She added that she is confident that there will be a new Yale aquatic facility in the near future.
The aquatic center has been designed as a championship facility replacing the current Kiphuth Exhibition Pool with a nine-lane, 50-meter pool and a separate diving well, as well as a connection to the practice pool on the third floor of Payne Whitney Gymnasium. The current design would fit primarily inside the current footprint of Payne Whitney, but an extension would have to be built to accommodate the size of the new facility.
Krebs-Dick said swimming alumni and Yale development officials are currently working hard to secure pledges until June 30, the end of Yale’s fiscal year and the date at which those involved will have a better idea of total fundraising numbers.
As of last Thursday, all donations to the project have been from swimming and diving alumni, according to Cole.
One of the decisions made after June 30 may be whether or not Yale contributes any funding to the project. According to the ELI magazine article, the project will be fully funded by donors. Clark’s email, however, noted that Director of Athletics Tom Beckett told swimming alumni during the February meeting that he believes Yale may contribute a sum that would significantly lower the amount required by alumni donors.
“Tom Beckett made the following points: Yale is committed to a first class facility as represented by the $47 million plan … We believe that if enough traction is gained by alumni pledges, Yale will contribute what it would cost to renovate the [Kiphuth Exhibition Pool], which we estimate to be between $10 million and $20 million, to the fundraising effort,” Clark wrote in the email.
Beckett, Cole and University Vice President for Development Joan O’Neill were not available for comment on the contents of Clark’s email when asked whether Yale had confirmed this possibility.
While Beckett told the News that managers of the fundraising project have not come to any decision about the University’s financial participation, he said a full analysis of the new pool’s operating costs has been completed, and that he thinks “a new pool will be much more efficient” than the current Kiphuth Exhibition Pool.
“We are working with the University on all aspects of this,” Beckett said. “We’re working to try and get the participation from the alums, and we are working to get that identified as thoroughly as we possibly can.”
Krebs-Dick noted that while swimming alumni collectively have no opinion about where the new pool should be built, University administrators decided last spring that the new pool should be in Payne Whitney Gymnasium in order to maximize the number of people who could use it.
While she understood this desire by the University, she said this requirement made the project more expensive because of the costs of reconfiguring the left side of Payne Whitney Gymnasium to fit a bigger pool.
“We alumni thought that you could probably build a pool on a blank green space for $20 million to $30 million,” Krebs-Dick said. “Trying to essentially redesign the left side and put a totally new 50-meter pool and a diving well with capacity for a diving tower, and linking it with the rest of the gym, then you’re looking at a $47 million price tag.”
She added, however, that she walked away from the March 2014 meeting with Salovey happy that Yale had deemed a $47 million project viable.
Cole and others managing the project are still searching for an anchor donor of $10 million or more, including a donor to name the facility after. Krebs-Dick said a main insight of the alumni meeting last month was that there are still potential donors who do not know that the project has been approved by Yale.
One of the ways in which Yale is broadening its search is through donor “relay teams,” a strategy that Cole and the Yale Swimming and Diving Association developed in order to increase alumni awareness of the project. Four alumni can donate $25,000 each over five years, for a total of $100,000 towards the project. Krebs-Dick said this method has proved effective, as there are significantly more alumni who can donate $25,000 than those who can contribute a figure as large as $100,000.
The Kiphuth Exhibition Pool was built in 1932.