The Wartburg College Board of Regents recently approved the naming of the Wuertz Health & Human Performance Center to honor Elizabeth (Liz) and John Wuertz. Liz was instrumental in the development of women’s athletics at Wartburg, serving as the first head coach of both the women’s volleyball and track and field programs. She was named the Iowa Conference Track and Field Coach of the Year in 1983 and also spent several years in Wartburg’s admissions and financial aid offices. John, a 1973 Wartburg graduate, served as head coach for the men’s track and field program and building supervisor for the previous Physical Education Center before becoming director of the Wartburg Physical Plant, a position he held for nearly 25 years.
Approval comes after the college received a $1 million gift commitment from Mike Murphy, a 1989 Wartburg graduate, member of the Board of Regents, and father of two Wartburg graduates (Megan and Miranda in 2018) and one current student (Riley, a junior). The Wuertzes positively impacted the Murphy family and countless others at Wartburg.
“I would consider their service to and support of Wartburg College as one of the most impactive that I have witnessed,” said Murphy, principal at Powerhouse Retail Services. “Not only as dedicated employees, but also as loyal fans and volunteers.”
Murphy’s gift is in support of the college’s larger Health & Human Performance project, a $3.7 million addition and renovation to the Wartburg-Waverly Sports & Wellness Center (The W). The project will feature the new Meyer Strength & Conditioning Annex, named for Darwyn (Dar) Meyer, a 1961 graduate who died in 2019, to be built on the building’s south side. The former athletic weight room on the second floor of The W will be renovated to create the health and human performance space, including two labs and several faculty offices to accommodate the new Department of Health & Human Performance. The entire project is dependent upon donors’ gifts, and to date, $3.2 million has been raised.
“Mike Murphy’s generous support is a tremendous blessing, advancing this wonderful illustration of how Wartburg integrates academic and co-curricular opportunities for students,” said Darrel Colson, Wartburg president. “The new home for our Department of Health & Human Performance will provide labs where students can analyze data generated by student-athletes in the new strength and conditioning center. What remarkable synergy between scientific research and intercollegiate athletics—and all for the benefit of Wartburg students.”
The new space will allow for integration with student-faculty research opportunities in exercise science, health and fitness, and physical education.
“We’ve spent a lot of time with the architects poring over every detail, so it is super exciting to be moving forward with the construction,” said Ed Westen, chair of the health and human performance department. “The lab and classroom spaces are going to be excellent. They will be outfitted with all of the necessary equipment for both research and teaching, along with some technologies that one would certainly not expect to see at an institution of our size.”
Construction will begin immediately to ensure the project is completed prior to the 2021-22 academic year. The addition is expected to be finished by February 2021, with the Wuertz Health & Human Performance Center renovation completed by May 2021. Woodruff Construction, general contractor, has selected John Mallen, Northeast Region president and a 2011 Wartburg graduate, to oversee the project.
“The new addition will be a great enhancement, both in function and appearance, for our entire athletic department,” said Rick Willis, director of athletics. “The updated and larger space, fully equipped with state-of-the-art technology, will benefit the development of all our student-athletes.”
The college’s goal is to complete fundraising by Dec. 31, 2020. Those interested in supporting the Health & Human Performance project can call the Development Office at 319-352-8495 or donate online at www.wartburg.edu/give.