As a former University of Iowa women's basketball letter winner, Sue Beckwith knows something about being part of a disciplined squad focused on a common goal. But when she started rowing recreationally years later, she really came to understand teamwork."Rowing is a wonderful, difficult sport, the ultimate team sport," said Beckwith, a Des Moines surgeon. "In basketball, you can take over and take the ball and do something. With rowing, you have to mirror everybody else and do the exact same thing that everybody else does. It's just a tremendous sport."That appreciation for rowing led her to a Hawkeye rowing practice early one morning. The strength and determination of the student-athletes she saw that day -- and the facility in which they trained so hard to represent their University left a powerful impression. Now, Beckwith has forever altered the future of UI athletics and generations of student-athletes. With the help of her leadership gift to the University of Iowa Foundation, the P. Sue Beckwith, M.D., Boathouse has been built and was dedicated.
Lynette Marshall, president and CEO of the UI Foundation, hailed Beckwith's generosity and vision at the dedication. "Sue Beckwith is devoted to our women student-athletes," Marshall said. "Her magnificent gift transformed the boathouse project and is an example of the power of women's philanthropy. The P. Sue Beckwith, M.D., Boathouse is the very first building on campus named solely after a woman benefactor. She is a model for all of us." Beckwith, who earned two degrees from the UI (1980 B.A., 1984 M.D.), is a member of the UI Foundation Board of Directors and is an avid Hawkeye athletics supporter and fan. She was motivated to make a gift by her loyalty for her alma mater, her respect for the rowers and their coaches, and most of all, by the dire need for the rowing team to have a permanent home. "The team has been housed in the Iowa Advanced Technology Laboratories. When I visited their practice, the rowers had thrown tarps and pads on the floor in between the boats to do their warm-ups," Beckwith recalls. "There were no restroom facilities, no locker room facilities. We're not talking about the kids not having some oak-paneled lounge with big screen TV's. They had nothing." Thanks to leadership from Beckwith who has also endowed athletic scholarships for Hawkeye rowers and women's basketball players -- that has now changed. Gary Barta, director of UI athletics, also spoke at the dedication ceremony. "I've often said that vision without resources is irrelevant," Barta said. "Sue Beckwith's incredible support made this vision and project relevant. We're so grateful for her leadership and support. Without her, this building simply wouldn't exist."
The Beckwith Boathouse was dedicated September 18, 2009. While being an energy-efficient facility, features other than the four event spaces include a large ergonomics room, four large boat bays, an elite rowing tank capable of altering the movement of water, a set of locker rooms, and a medical training room. In addition to being home to the UI Women's rowing team, the building houses the UI Men's rowing team and the Old Capitol Rowing Club.