Published: March 23, 2022
Ribbons Cut on Benson Alex Riseman Fitness and Recreation Center
With tears in his eyes, Benson Alex Riseman ’78 group-hugged his family after watching the unveiling of the new name on the fitness center: the Benson Alex Riseman Fitness and Recreation Center.
Riseman and his entire family travelled from Las Vegas to attend the grand opening on March 21 of the Phase II expansion.
“It’s a bit surreal and pretty emotional thinking back to when I arrived and when I was a student at The University of Tampa,” says Riseman. When he attended UT in the '70s, he was taking his first-ever plane rides and worrying about how to pay for the next semester. Now, his name is on one of the most innovative facilities on campus.
Opening the ceremony with a welcome and recognition of guests was James Macleod ’70, chair of the Board of Trustees. Immediately following were remarks from Jane Castor ’81, mayor of the City of Tampa, and Alyssa White ’22, the student government president.
“I’m so excited that we’re finally here today to see [the center] reach its full potential,” said White. “The incredible classrooms, human performance laboratory and faculty offices will serve to bridge the gap between social and academic aspects for the students, faculty and staff.”
Longtime UT supporter, Riseman said there were three main reasons that prompted him to make this contribution to UT: love, leadership and legacy. First, he wanted to share his love for UT with the Spartan community. Before he had grown into his own skin yet, UT gave him the tools and skills to shape his future.
Second, his leadership experience compelled him to make a difference. “Leadership is taking action,” Riseman says, “It’s doing what you know to be right regardless of what people say or think.”
Lastly, he wanted to leave an unforgettable legacy. While his ultimate wish is for his grandchildren to become fellow UT alumni, he’s more than satisfied with the building that bears his name. “It’s comforting to know that even when I’m dust in the wind, this building will still be here after my time on Earth and will contribute to a better future for all,” he said.
Phase I of the Fitness and Recreation Center opened in September 2016 and housed personal training and evaluation, wellness and nutrition programs, intramural and club sports, and exercise-related laboratories and research activities. The grand opening celebrated the execution of Phase II, which expanded and reconfigured exercise and research facilities, added basketball and beach volleyball courts, and an aquatic center.
The Benson Alex Riseman Aquatic Center – which will be home to the men’s and women’s swimming teams – features an 11-lane, 25-yard, competition-sized pool, a small recreational pool, a clover leaf-shaped hot tub and a two-story pool house.
“We feel like this is one of the very best facilities in the country,” says UT President Ronald Vaughn in a joint statement with his wife, Renée Vaughn. “You’d be amazed at the number of lives that will be impacted by this new facility in the heart of the campus,” said Renée.
Story by Madeline McMahon