By Barry Moskowitz
Queens, NY – As it rapidly approaches completion, an
ultra-modern field house on St. John’s University’s Queens campus
reflects the strong support of benefactors who have contributed to
the University’s renewed strength, Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M.,
President of St. John's, said at a special tour of the facility on
“There’s a buzz about St. John’s University,” Rev. Harrington
told a group of benefactors treated Wednesday evening to a first
look at the new Taffner Field House. “People all over the
country are talking about the great things happening here. And it’s
The benefactors, all longtime supporters of St. John’s athletics
programs, included Eleanor and Donald Taffner, for whom the new
facility is named. Mrs. Taffner is a member of the
University’s Board of Trustees. Her husband, Donald, is a St.
Slated for official dedication later this month, the Taffner
Field House is part of a $23 million athletic and student
recreation enhancement project that includes the Belson Stadium
building, the new student Fitness Center and various enhancements
to Carnesecca Arena.
“Not many people can make the kind of gift the Taffner family
has made,” said Rev. Harrington. Like the Taffners, Rev. Harrington
noted, the generous benefactors assembled for the tour demonstrate
the outstanding support with which the University is blessed.
Rev. Harrington joined other St. John’s officials in thanking
the benefactors after the tour. The guests also enjoyed a cocktail
reception preceding the event.
Also addressing the benefactors, Chris P. Monasch, Athletic
Director at St. John’s, said the facility testifies both
to benefactor support and the University’s commitment to its
“As chairman of collegiate athletic conferences for fifteen
years,” said Monasch, “I’ve often asked athletic directors about
the qualities that make a truly successful athletics program. The
two they mentioned most often were great coaches and a university
president who supports athletics. I’ve been at St. John’s since
March, and I definitely see those components in place here.”
The benefactors also heard from Men’s Basketball Head Coach Norm
Roberts and Women’s Basketball Head Coach Kimberly Barnes Arico.
Roberts noted that the Taffner Field House provides much-needed
recreational space for students as well as the men’s and women’s
basketball teams. Barnes Arico said the field house will help their
teams continue their momentum toward renewed excellence.
The event began with the cocktail reception at 6:30
p.m. The benefactors broke into four groups to tour the
two-story, 38,000-square-foot facility. Salvatore Ciampo, Associate
Vice President and Executive Director of Facilities Services and
Joseph Ben-Ari, Senior Project Manager, led the tours.
The benefactors first viewed the exterior of the field house, a
strikingly modern design that echoes the collegiate gothic style of
the older buildings on campus. Then they toured the main men’s and
women’s basketball offices, coaches’ locker rooms, meeting spaces,
and a media room where athletes can watch training films and speak
with the press.
Next were the weight-training areas, with benches and equipment
that can accommodate athletes who approach or exceed 7 feet
tall. Built with a corridor connecting it to Carnesecca Arena,
the field house also includes four full-size basketball courts –
two for student life, two for athletics.
The Taffner Field House, Rev. Harrington noted, complements St.
John’s University’s recent success at enhancing the traditionally
high quality of its academic and campus life programs.
As a result, he said, “Applications are the highest they’ve ever
been. In fact, among private universities in New York State,
only New York University received more applications this year.”
Rev. Harrington also noted that this year’s freshman class is the
largest in recent years, while SAT scores of incoming students have
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