The Wartburg College Board of Regents recently approved the naming of Harms Stadium at Hertel Field to honor Ray Harms, a 1951 graduate, and his wife, Gracia. Ray was a member of the Knights baseball team and taught religion and Greek at Wartburg for 36 years, retiring in 1994. Ray died in 1998, and Gracia remained a fixture in the community until her death in 2018.
The leadership gift was provided by their son, Matt Harms, a 1981 Wartburg graduate. The funds will help provide permanent seating for 500 for baseball, including 100 chair seats and improved handicap accessibility. A new press box, with technology enhancements and improved sight lines, is also being constructed.
“I wanted to honor my folks because of their commitment to Wartburg,” said Matt. “I like the idea that this gift will help improve the baseball stadium and allows Wartburg to host larger Division III events. I know the high school uses the field, so we can help them, too.”
Matt played tennis for the Knights and has made gifts to the team as an alumnus. Ray and Gracia’s other two sons also graduated from the college: Bart in 1983 and Blake in 1985.
“Athletics were a very important part of my experience at Wartburg,” said Matt. “I know that nice facilities make a difference in students’ lives. Wartburg is dedicated to athletics, which supports its mission of developing the whole person.”
Rick Willis, director of athletics, knows the transformative power of updated facilities.
“This generous gift enables us to significantly enhance our baseball facility and will positively impact our student-athletes, programs, and spectators for years to come,” said Willis.
Harms’ gift is part of the College’s larger Outdoor Athletic Facilities project, a $1.5 million initiative to enhance seating at baseball, softball, and men’s and women’s soccer, as well as other improvements to the Hertel Outdoor Athletics Complex on the northwest edge of campus. Elmer Hertel, longtime biology professor at Wartburg, was the Knights’ first baseball coach and athletic director following the college’s relocation to Waverly in 1935. The baseball field is named in his honor.
The Outdoor Athletic Facilities project was made possible by a $750,000 challenge grant from Jack and Sarah Salzwedel, both 1982 graduates. To date, $1.35 million of the $1.5 million goal has been raised.
The project fulfills recommendations from Wartburg’s Focus on the Future constituent-based planning initiative centered on student success, including those developed by the task force groups assigned to Living & Learning Environment and Student Recruitment, Support, Engagement and Satisfaction.
Those interested in supporting the Outdoor Athletic Facility project can call 319-352-8495, email email@example.com, or donate online at www.wartburg.edu/give.