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Official Opening Of The Tom Oxley Athletic Center

April 9, 2001

Boca Raton News
Guest Commentary: Howard Schnellenberger

The way I saw it, Florida Atlantic University's fighting owl football team was winding down Friday afternoon's practice when the faithful began to gather from all corners of the Florida Atlantic Territory to take part in the last in a series of events to celebrate the opening of the Tom Oxley Athletic Center.

On cue, the helicopter carrying President Catanese, Tom Oxley, and FAU's mascot circled campus and, in ever-descending circles, nestled safely on the adjacent practice field. President Catanese was the first to rise to the podium and welcome the large crowd. He pointed out the Oxley Center's majestic appearance and highlighted the fact that the Oxley Center serves as a nerve center for the entire athletic department. It houses not only the football team but an equal number of female athletes who represent our soccer, track, volleyball, softball teams.

Dr. Catanese confirmed that the Oxley Center has quickly become a wonderful asset to FAU's academic community by providing the entire student body with nine classrooms and a magnificent computer center. The center stands as a statement in concrete to the importance that Florida Atlantic University places on the development of its athletic teams. This statement made in bricks and mortar shouts louder than all spoken words combined.

Special thanks was given first to signature benefactor Tom Oxley and his extended family. The FAU Foundation was recognized, and presentations were made to generous donors whose names are enshrined above selected rooms of the building. Founders and members of the Owl Fund were acknowledged for their benevolence.

When it became Tom Oxley's time to speak, he reiterated his story of personal tragedy and nearly losing his life as a result of a polo injury. With great emotion, he told how FAU students and members of the Boca Raton community not only saved his life but brought him back to a quality of life that truly was unexpected. Enormously grateful to the University and community, Tom wanted to make a difference for all FAU students and to leave a real memento-an athletic temple- that forever would benefit students and south Florida.

In a show of solidarity in their heartfelt thanks, the head coaches representing each athletic team presented tokens of appreciation to Mr. Oxley.

The event came to its climax as Tom Oxley and President Catanese cut the ribbon that symbolically opened the Oxley Center for the tens of thousands of students, coaches, faculty, and staff who will enjoy the benevolence of this extraordinary gift.

The beautiful day made it difficult for the congregation to leave, so they were delighted to prolong the celebration when the volleyball team challenged the football team to their game and playfully exchanged serves, spikes and blocks. And that's the way I saw it!



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