Pitt-Bradford Sport Center Named in Honor of Campus President Emeritus Richard McDowell and His Wife, Ruth

Issue Date: 
March 4, 2013

From left, Pitt Board of Trustees Chair Stephen R. Tritch, Richard McDowell, and Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg (Credit: Mike Drazdzinski/CIDDE)


The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford has named its sport and fitness center in honor of Pitt-Bradford President Emeritus Richard McDowell and his wife, Ruth.

The University of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees approved the naming of the Dr. Richard and Ruth McDowell Sport and Fitness Center during its Feb. 22 meeting in Oakland.The sport and fitness center opened in the fall of 2002 and includes the KOA Arena, the Kenneth M. Jadlowiec Fitness Center, an exercise studio, the Tom L. McDowell Fieldhouse (named in honor of McDowell’s father), the Paul C. Duke III Aquatic Center, as well as offices, classrooms, and athletic training facilities.

“I am tremendously pleased that one of the most vibrant buildings on campus now carries the name of a vibrant leader,” said Livingston Alexander, Pitt-Bradford’s president. “Dr. McDowell’s unrelenting enthusiasm, optimism, and dedication carried Pitt-Bradford into the 21st century, well poised for the national recognition we’re seeing today.” 

McDowell served as president of Pitt-Bradford from 1973 to 2002, leading it to some milestones of progress: the gaining of its baccalaureate-degree-granting status in 1979, the expansion of the physical campus, and the growth of the student body to 1,200.

McKean County Senior Judge John M. Cleland, chair of the Pitt-Bradford Advisory Board from 1995 to 2005, said, “It is more than fitting that Dick receive this honor. The campus is largely his vision, and his legacy is being duly recognized. And certainly, Ruth has been Dick’s partner for many years, and it’s appropriate that they are recognized together for the team they are.”When McDowell became Pitt-Bradford’s president at age 29, he was the youngest college president in the nation. Prior to that, he had served the university in several other capacities, including assistant to the president for academic affairs, director of admissions, and as a faculty member. 

Following his retirement as president, McDowell taught courses in leadership and fundraising at Pitt-Bradford. He holds a bachelor’s degree from High Point University and master’s and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from St. Louis University. High Point University awarded McDowell an honorary doctorate in 1996. In 2001, he was awarded the Pitt-Bradford Alumni Association Teaching Excellence Award, and, in 2002, he was recognized for his support of athletics by induction into Pitt-Bradford’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

Over the years, the McDowells have supported a wide range of important initiatives at the Bradford campus. They established the Pitt-Bradford Athletics Endowment; joined with other donors and relatives of Richard McDowell to create the Zelda N. Hyatt Undergraduate Student Research Fund; and gave generously to the Bradford Education Foundation at Pitt-Bradford, specifically for grants to expand and revolutionize the availability and use of technology throughout the curriculum for all Pitt-Bradford majors.