Palm Beach Atlantic University today announced the largest gift to support Sailfish athletics in program history with a $4 million gift from the Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Foundation for construction of the University's new athletic complex.
|Sheila and John Rinker|
"The students, faculty and staff of Palm Beach Atlantic University are grateful to John and Sheila Rinker and the Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Foundation for this extraordinary gift," University President Lu Hardin said. "This is certainly the largest gift in the history of our NCAA Division II sports program. In light of this economy, this gift is exceptional. The Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Foundation has been a vital partner in the development of Palm Beach Atlantic University and it will be an honor to name our primarily athletic facility in their name.
Located on 76 acres off Parker Avenue north of Southern Boulevard, the Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Athletic Campus will include baseball, softball, soccer, tennis and lacrosse competition facilities as well as an 11-acre community park for the use of city residents, which will be deeded to the City of West Palm Beach. President Hardin said that the gift allows the University to accelerate construction, which has already started with site development.
"Our foundation views this new sports complex to be a first class facility that will add a necessary ingredient in developing student-athletes as well as enhancing the overall student experience in keeping with the scope of a growing University," said John Rinker, president of the Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Foundation. "Speaking for my wife, Sheila, as well as the entire foundation board, I would like to express our sincere admiration for Palm Beach Atlantic and the role that the University plays in shaping young lives. It is our hope that this lead grant will act as a catalyst in attracting additional funding for the project. The Rinker family has been dedicated to Palm Beach Atlantic University since its inception and this most recent grant provides for a proud addition to the University."
The Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Foundation was formed in 1998 from the M.E. Rinker, Sr. Foundation, Inc. and honors John Rinker's father, Marshall E. "Doc" Rinker who was a lifetime trustee of Palm Beach Atlantic University, and his mother, Vera Lea Rinker. In 1999, the Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Foundation, along with John and Sheila Rinker, contributed $3 million to Palm Beach Atlantic University for Vera Lea Rinker Hall, which houses the School of Music and Fine Arts. A life-long Palm Beach County resident and president of Rinker Enterprises, Inc. and JJR Properties, Inc., Rinker is a former trustee of Palm Beach Atlantic. Sheila Rinker serves as a volunteer on the University's Women of Distinction committee.
"For a growing university such as Palm Beach Atlantic, stellar athletic facilities are a huge attraction to prospective students," said Robert Simpson, chairman of the University's board of trustees. "A new athletic campus promotes school spirit among the entire student body and adds to the quality of campus life."
Palm Beach Atlantic is a member of the NCAA Division II and competes with member schools of the Sunshine State Conference as it seeks conference membership. Known as the Sailfish, the University's 11 teams compete in men's and women's soccer, men's and women's cross country, women's volleyball, men's and women's basketball, baseball, softball, men's and women's tennis. In addition, some 1,100 students participate annually in intramural sports including flag football, basketball, soccer, indoor volleyball, bowling, ultimate Frisbee, dodge ball, billiards, ping pong, beach volleyball and racquetball.