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May 31, 2014
Northwest Missouri State University honored the lives and legacies of its seventh president and first lady Saturday, May 31, with a ceremony dedicating its Robert and Virginia Foster Fitness Center, which is slated to open in the fall of 2015.
The ceremony – attended by dozens of current and former University administrators, faculty and staff, and friends – featured Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski talking with the Foster’s sons, Robert Foster III and Doug Foster, before an unveiling of a sign with renderings of the new facility.
Jasinski reflected on the love Robert and Virginia Foster shared for each other and the strong connections they had with students and staff of the University. Dr. Robert Foster served as Northwest's president from 1964 to 1977.
“There is no question in my mind that this ceremony today to dedicate this building to a wonderful couple is based on love,” Jasinski said. “That love is integral to what’s happened here over the years.”
Previously, the building, which opened in 1981, was known as the Robert P. Foster Aquatic Center. At its March meeting, Northwest’s Board of Regents approved the renaming of the facility, along with a $4 fitness fee to be implemented when construction is complete. The University intends to break ground later this summer and is targeting fall 2015 for the building’s opening.
“I think the greatest pleasure for us is the fact that this fitness center is going to carry not only Dad’s name but Mom’s name, too,” Robert Foster III said. “I saw Mom working hand in hand with Dad throughout his administration, and that’s something that we appreciate very much.”
Under Dr. Foster’s leadership, the campus saw extensive growth and the construction of several facilities, including the Garrett-Strong Science Building, the Olive DeLuce Fine Arts Building, the high-rise residence halls and the Valk Center, in addition to a major expansion of the J.W. Jones Student Union.
Dr. Foster was instrumental in the creation of the Northwest Foundation, which funded the construction of the Memorial Bell Tower – a campus icon that also was completed during Foster’s presidency. He also had a leading role in securing funding to establish KXCV/KRNW, Northwest’s award-winning 100,000-watt National Public Radio affiliate.
Dr. Foster died in 2008 at the age of 90. Mrs. Foster died May 8 at age 97.
Members of the Foster family said the new building will be a tribute to the types of programs and qualities Robert and Virginia Foster valued as well as their leadership of the University.
“We’re about to build a living monument,” Doug Foster said. “It’s not just for athletes; it’s for everybody. It was very important to them that kids learn to be all-around citizens – the physical, the mental, the moral – and I think that this is just a great embodiment to that notion.”
Added Doug Foster, “If you come here as a prospective student, you see a magnificent campus and you see all these things that are tailored to what you need while you’re in college. It’s a powerful recruiting tool, and I think Northwest will continue to have success. It’s a real tribute to us from so many dimensions.”
Northwest is a coeducational, primarily residential four-year university offering a broad range of undergraduate and selected graduate programs. Founded in 1905, the University has evolved into a vibrant and diverse learning community with enrollment of more than 6,500 students hailing from throughout the United States and 30 countries. The university offers more than 150 student organizations, and textbooks and a laptop are included in tuition. Northwest boasts a 57 percent graduation rate, which is higher than the national average, and 97.4 percent of Northwest graduates find employment or continue their education within six months of graduation, according to the most recent data.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468