REGION — University of Scranton Trustee Robert Weiss ’68 remembers well his days as a student, walking with his future wife Marilyn from campus to her home on East Locust Street in South Scranton.
They now imagine making a similar stroll, only this time to the University’s new athletic fields.
The Weisses have donated $1 million to support the development of the University’s South Side Athletics Campus, a $14 million initiative announced in October.
The plans for the upgrade of an 11-acre athletic complex along Broadway Street owned by the University include NCAA regulation baseball and softball fields, a multipurpose field that meets NCAA standards for soccer, lacrosse and field hockey, a community basketball court, a children’s play area, a field house, bleacher seating and parking.
“University students and area residents will benefit greatly from the generous support of the Weisses and others whose contributions are helping to make our vision of first-rate athletic fields a reality,” said University of Scranton President Kevin P. Quinn, S.J., who identified this project as meeting a critical need of the University.
Currently, the University has only one intercollegiate field, Fitzpatrick Field, which is used by five Division III intercollegiate athletic teams and several intramural sports and club teams.
The University’s baseball and softball teams play at parks in Scranton and Jessup.
Weiss recognizes the University’s need for more athletic fields, as well as the value of having a sports complex in close proximity to campus and its potential to have a positive impact on a neighborhood he knows well.
“When staying at the Radisson at Lackawanna Station, I would watch the students literally lining up to play on Fitzpatrick Field. I know firsthand how much it is used and of the University’s need for more athletic fields,” said Weiss.
“The South Side property sits well with the campus and has the potential to enhance the neighborhood. Its development is the manifestation of a mosaic of what the University is about.”
This project also complements neighborhood revitalization and beautification projects already underway in Scranton.
The Lackawanna River Heritage Trail runs adjacent to the property.
In addition to creating short-term jobs for the construction of the site, the South Side Athletics Campus will allow the University to host NCAA, as well as PIAA, tournaments that will draw visitors to Scranton and Lackawanna County from a larger geographical area.
These visitors will utilize hotel, dining and shopping amenities, spurring increased economic activity in the Greater Scranton Area.
“The South Side Athletics Campus will give the community an outstanding resource for recreation, league play and economic redevelopment,” said Father Quinn.
Weiss is the president and CEO of The Cooper Companies (NYSE:COO) Pleasanton, California, a multinational manufacturer and marketer of specialty health care products that operates through two business units, CooperVision and CooperSurgical.
He said support of this project is also in line with his company’s emphasis on wellness.
“Employees are our number one asset. When I became president nine years ago, we began an employee wellness program, supporting good health practices, healthy nutrition, fitness and balance in life.
Whether in Singapore, Hong Kong or anywhere else, our employees are health and sports minded,” said Weiss.
A native of Lake Ariel, Weiss is a certified public accountant and earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting at the University.
He has had a distinguished 39-year career with The Cooper Companies.
Weiss, who has been chief operating officer, chief financial officer, corporate controller and treasurer at Cooper, as well as president of CooperVision, also is a member of the company’s board of directors, as well as a member of the board of directors for Accuray Incorporated, a global radiosurgery leader.
The former U.S. Army Captain was awarded two Bronze Stars and the Army Commendation Medal during his service in Vietnam.
In 2008, he received the University’s Frank J. O’Hara Alumni Award for management. He is also a member of the University’s President’s Circle and Estate Society.
A native of Scranton, Marilyn Weiss, the former Marilyn Chesick, studied at the University through the Scranton State General Hospital School of Nursing.
She has been head nurse at the Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York and a pediatric nurse at Bayside Pediatrics in Pleasanton.
She is now active with the Tri Valley Repertory Theatre in Pleasanton.
They have three children, Chris, Doug and Kim, and two grandchildren.
Earlier this year, the couple made a $1.25 million gift to the University to support a pediatric low-vision research and training suite in Leahy Hall that now bears their name.
The gift also supports student scholarships in accounting and philosophy.