Ross Mayer ’70 (CLAS) bases new commitment to UConn on his passion for overall health and wellness.
Ross Mayer ’70 (CLAS) came to UConn with a larger goal than just preparing for a career. He viewed college as an opportunity to find out who he was as a person and to build the skills needed to be of service to others.
“My parents taught me how to care about other people,” he says, noting that they also set the example of a strong work ethic during his upbringing in a modest section of Queens, New York.
As a student at UConn, Mayer worked to pay for his tuition, but he also managed to get the most out of the full college experience. “My work ethic came from watching my Dad work three jobs and giving back as a teacher and coach,” he says. “My mother gave back by being a good mother and helping people in need, such as making books for the blind up until her 70s.”
It’s no surprise, then, that Mayer has chosen to give back to the University in ways that help others have the same opportunities for growth he had. His philanthropy is driven by his personal passions, and his affection for UConn is evident. For more than a decade, he has funded the Ross Mayer Scholarship in Economics for students who wish to follow the same academic path that led him to a highly successful career in the financial sector.
“I make sure to tell them that their time at UConn is a chance to develop into someone who uses their intelligence to help other people.”
This year, Mayer, who resides in Sharon, Massachusetts, has channeled another of his passions— personal health and wellness—into a new philanthropic commitment that will benefit thousands of students across the University on a daily basis.
Heather McDonald, assistant vice president for development at the UConn Foundation, who has built a strong relationship with Mayer over the past 11 years, suggested that he visit UConn’s brand-new Student Recreation Center, which will open in September 2019. Replacing an outdated facility previously located in the Field House, the new, three-story 191,000 square-foot building on Hillside Road brings all of UConn’s recreation and fitness programs under one roof for the first time.
“The main goal of the Center is to enhance our ability to include everyone,” says Cyndi Costanzo, executive director of UConn Recreation. “It’s a way of making a larger university seem smaller.”
The fitness opportunities and programming available at the Center range from yoga and Pilates to outdoor adventure trips, intramurals, and club sports. The complex includes a new synthetic turf field, 30,000 square feet of fitness space, a cycle-sharing program, and an aquatics center. There will also be resources for personal training and nutritional coaching.
“Heather showed me three of the health assessment rooms in what’s called the performance suite,” says Mayer. “The windows face the big tower with the Husky logo on it. That’s a logo that I’ve come to really appreciate.”
Following his visit, Mayer decided to make a naming gift to the Center, through which his funding will support UConn Recreation’s health and wellness programming year-round.
“If I care about something, I’m going to put my money behind it,” he says. “UConn has been a vital part of my life. It’s where I learned my trade and developed lifelong relationships. The lessons I learned there, both good and bad, have been invaluable in shaping who I’ve become.”
Through his generosity, Mayer will now play an expanded role in shaping a whole new generation of Huskies.