$2M Gift for Huntington Athletic Expansion

Huntington University’s athletic complex (PLEX) is gearing up for an $18.7 million expansion and redesign, and HU alum Ryan Thwaits is leading that charge. With a gift of $2 million pledged to the campaign, Thwaits believes the transformation of the PLEX will bring a spotlight to HU’s athletic programs.

“Athletics are vital in bringing a college campus and community together. Everyone wants to be part of a winning team,” said Thwaits. “As a basketball player, I may not have been the biggest, fastest or strongest on the court, but I learned that with hard work and a good attitude, you can accomplish anything.”

Thwaits graduated from HU in 2004 and went on to prove that very point. Today, Thwaits is involved with several businesses and most recently is co-owner in the new RV startup company Brinkley RV. A member of the inaugural class of HU’s entrepreneurial small business management major, he took the skills he learned during his college experience and helped create companies that are making an impact on economic development and community infrastructure. 

“The renovation and expansion of the PLEX is a transformative project for HU on many levels,” said Dr. Russ Degitz, chief operating officer at Huntington University. “This 90,000+ square foot facility will now afford more opportunities for our students and the community to engage and enjoy events and activities in a first-class venue. Featuring three large arena and gym spaces, substantially expanded weight and cardio areas, a large entry lobby, hospitality suites, a pro shop, a hall of fame, and larger classrooms, this project will be a true game changer for the University.”

Reflecting on the University since his graduation, Thwaits was quick to point out the leaps and bounds his alma mater has made in the area of academic programs, faculty and spaces.

“Huntington’s academic offerings have always been top notch, and the opportunities created by an HU degree are vast, but I want these dollars to be invested in athletics and the experience that extracurricular involvement can bring to a collegiate experience,” said Thwaits, who was inducted into the Huntington University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016.

With a third of HU’s student population involved in athletics, Thwaits’ investment in the PLEX will make a major impact.

“When it was built, the PLEX was state-of-the-art, but time has taken its toll, and this is our chance to, once again, make this space a showstopper,” said Dr. Sherilyn Emberton, president of Huntington University. “With so much of our student population accessing the PLEX for athletics and physical exercise and with the draw that Forester athletics have within the community, it’s time to make the most trafficked building on campus shine again.”

And shine it will. In the upcoming months, campus guests will see construction begin that will impact nearly every space within the current PLEX footprint and transformative changes to the surrounding grounds.

“People who came before me invested in Huntington so that I could have a fantastic college experience and athletics opportunities,” said Thwaits. “Now it’s my turn to do the same for the next generation of Foresters. I want them to have success at the highest level, and this is my way of making that happen.”

Thwaits believes that we are all called to “give back to make things better for the next generation. It’s our duty to invest in the future, and there is no better place to invest than Huntington University.” He would like his gift to be a challenge to others to step up and support this impactful project.

To learn more about the PLEX project or to be a part of the PLEX campaign, visit huntington.edu/PLEX.