Track to hold Spielman’s name after gift to Athletic and Wellness Facilities Project

Susan Taylor Spielman ’75 doesn’t consider herself an athlete but says she always “liked to run.” 

Susan Taylor Spielman '75 and husband Rick Spielman
Susan Taylor Spielman ’75 and husband Rick Spielman

So, run she did–with the men’s cross country team because there wasn’t a women’s cross country team when she attended Cornell College in the ’70s.

Now everyone who likes to run will see Susan’s name on the outdoor track following a major gift to the Athletic and Wellness Facilities Project from Susan and her husband Rick for $250,000.

“Athletics, even if someone is not into athletics, is good for everybody,” Susan said. “I think people will get involved with certain activities because other students are participating, and they think it’s fun. The facilities are going to be nice for people to get together.”

President Jonathan Brand, a runner himself, is thrilled by this gift of support from Susan and Rick.

“Susan was a pioneer at Cornell, competing with the men’s cross country team when she was at Cornell,” Brand said. “I think this project fits nicely with her experiences at Cornell and will encourage all students to engage in athletics and general fitness. She and Rick have an attachment to Cornell and were pleased to support one of our highest priorities.”

The Spielmans said they wanted to give to the $19.5 million Athletic and Wellness Facilities Project to give students more opportunities. Part of the Greater > Than Campaign for Cornell College, the project will enlarge and renew the existing athletics facility resulting in a contemporary health, wellness, and sport center for all students, faculty, staff, and alumni. 

“I am impressed with Cornell’s vision for the future and want to be in some way, part of helping Cornell students achieve their goals,” Susan said.

Susan’s time as a student at Cornell is near and dear to her, and she has many fond memories that make her smile.

“It’s not just the athletic project. Cornell, in general, is very important to me,” Susan said. “I wasn’t just a number as a student. The professors invited us to their houses, and we got together in small groups, which was really nice.”

She also keeps in regular contact with half a dozen or so close friends she met on campus. The group still plans annual get-togethers and visit each other as much as possible. 

“My lifelong friends–my best friends–are my Cornell friends,” she said.

Susan earned a degree in German from Cornell and went on to teach the language at Dubuque Senior High School. That’s where she met her husband, the media coordinator at the school, on the first day of teacher orientation. She also started the women’s cross country team there. The two moved to Minnesota a few years later where they still live. They have five children and 16 grandchildren.

While Susan and Rick now do a different kind of running (after grandchildren), they are excited to see students fill the new spaces of the future Richard and Norma Small Athletic and Wellness Center. It’s scheduled to open this fall.