PLYMOUTH, N.H.—To those who truly know Dick and Betty Hanaway of Holderness, healthy, active living is synonymous with their lifestyle and how they think about community.
Avid skiers, climbers and bikers who have scaled the highest peaks on five continents and biked four times across the U.S.; ballroom dance partners with a passion for performance and perfection for more than 25 years; and tireless volunteers who share their time and talents in myriad ways—the Hanaways have made a point of thoughtfully and deliberately living and giving, engaging with their community and advocating for high quality of life for all area residents.
Fortunately, Plymouth State University—and its long-term impact within the Plymouth and Holderness communities—is a key passion for the Hanaways as well. Rarely do you encounter Dick or Betty without one of them invoking the importance of the University, its services and mission and the cultural enrichment opportunities it makes possible. As Betty says, “It’s as if the town and the University are growing together.”
Given their commitment to this region that has been their home for more than three decades, it’s no surprise that news of the Active Living, Learning and Wellness (ALLWell) project underway at Plymouth State University piqued their curiosity—and their philanthropy. Long-time supporters of Plymouth State, over the years the Hanaways have created a diverse, foundational legacy of supporting the University, most notably with the Hanaway Theatre at the Silver Center for the Arts. Hanaway is a 665-seat proscenium theatre that hosts a variety of student and professional performances, including opera, ballet, symphonic, and chamber music and dramatic productions.
Now, the Hanaways have stepped forward again to partner with Plymouth State University, making a leadership gift to support educational, recreational and athletic opportunities in the soon-to-be-opened ice arena.
In recognition of this generous gift and their ongoing contributions to Plymouth State University, the ice sheet at the new arena will be named the “Hanaway Rink.”
“Dick and Betty Hanaways’ recent commitment demonstrates a broad understanding and endorsement of the importance of philanthropy to sustaining what the University can bring to the local, regional and national communities,” says PSU President Sara Jayne Steen. “We are so grateful for their generosity and thoughtfulness, which will benefit not just PSU but the greater Plymouth and Holderness communities as well. It’s a pleasure to partner with Dick and Betty because they have a deep awareness of and appreciation for the interrelatedness of the University and the surrounding communities.”
This investment by the Hanaways in the future of PSU marks the latest in a long line of commitments Dick has made to the community ever since his arrival in the area in the early ’70s. He was a co-founder of the Pemi River Conservation Council and has been active in the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce. He was instrumental in founding Downtown 2000, a precursor organization for the current day Main Street Plymouth, helping to raise funds to support hiring an executive director to spearhead a blueprint for downtown business development. His interest in community revitalization, coupled with his concerns for protecting the natural environment, is closely linked to his work as a real estate developer.
The Hanaways have been avid advocates and supporters over the years of the New Hampshire Music Festival, which takes the stage each summer in the Hanaway Theatre. And Dick and Betty generously volunteer their time in the adaptive ski program at Waterville Valley, working with disabled skiers sometimes, daily during, the winter months.
That expansive vision for community-based living is something Dick sees embodied in PSU, which he says is likewise wholly committed to the future of the region, culturally and economically. “President Steen sees the ‘big picture’ of opportunity that the ALLWell project can bring to the long-term health of the region and local communities,” he says. This shared vision has the potential to inspire others to support the ALLWell project, realizing the long-held dream of a regional ice arena that will help to anchor and expand the local economy.
A multi-phase, multi-year project, the Active Living, Learning and Wellness Center at PSU will bring academics, recreation and athletics together in a central location that will service campus and community alike. Phase I, the 863-seat ice arena and area welcome center, is slated to open summer 2010 and will serve as a teaching facility for instruction and research in ice activities, a site for student and community learning and recreation and a home for Panther varsity men’s and women’s ice hockey teams. The Welcome Center will serve as the “front door” for the campus and for the communities of Plymouth and Holderness.
Students in the Department of Health and Human Performance, PSU’s third largest department, will be able to conduct testing on athletes; athletic trainers will use the facility as one of their clinical rotation sites and the University will be able to offer skating classes as a physical education option for PSU students.
“The new facility will also provide internship opportunities for prospective sports managers and many partnerships opportunities across area organizations,” said Sylvia Bryant, executive director of University Advancement. “It’s a win-win for the University and for the region.”
The environmentally state-of-the-art arena will offer ice time throughout most of the year, providing high-demand skating opportunities for teams and leagues across New Hampshire. In this way, the impact of the Hanaway Rink is well aligned with the impact envisioned for the Hanaway Theatre when it opened more than 15 years ago—a vision based on community inclusion in all aspects of theatre operations.
That vision has become integral to campus life. The Hanaway Theatre’s main stage (90 by 36 feet) allows accommodations not only for the large student ensembles produced through the Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance; it is also home to community groups such as the Pemigewasset Choral Society and award-winning university-community productions by the Educational Theatre Collaborative (ETC).
Hanaway Theatre is also ideal for regional activities for high school students including All New England band and choral festivals, the New Hampshire Educational Theatre Guild competition, and annual auditions for New Hampshire theatre productions. The Silver Series of professional artists brings world-renowned performers and groups such as Momix, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and LA Theatre Works to the region thanks to the large space, and lighting and sounds effects available in Hanaway Theatre.
Professor Jonathan Santore, chair of the Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance said, “When I came to PSU 15 years ago I was extremely impressed by Hanaway Theatre—its construction, its proportions—it is a perfect concert hall for an institution of our size. I love to take potential students into the space and describe the experiences they’ll have on that stage.”
Furthering these opportunities, in the years since the Hanaway Theatre opened Dick and Betty created an endowed fund to support programming through the Silver Series, hosting performers such as Irish tenor John McDermott, scheduled to perform in April, and adding measurably to the breadth of cultural offerings in the region.
Decades of PSU athletes have also benefited from the Hanaways’ generous ethic of giving and their life-long interest in wellness, from their corporate sponsorship of the Department of Athletics, to sponsorships of golf tournament fundraisers, to gifts to the ski team for the purchase of uniforms and equipment.
Each of their gifts to PSU over the years has left Dick and Betty Hanaway with a good feeling that they are helping young people to “reach beyond their grasp—to realize that doing what you have a passion for every day, with persistence and joy, makes a difference,” as Dick puts it. Their belief that “regular people can do extraordinary things” is foundational not just to their philanthropy and way of life, but also mirrors PSU’s mission as a regional comprehensive university.
Dick Hanaway could point to many awards and honors he’s received over the years—the Chancellor’s Medal of the University System of New Hampshire in recognition of continued support or the honorary “Maroon Key” bestowed by his alma mater Colgate University, recognizing his service on the Alumni Board of Directors. But he prefers to measure his achievements by less tangible standards. “Rarely do you get the chance to share the things you love with the larger community,” he notes.
With their support of Plymouth State University through sponsorship of the Hanaway Rink, Dick and Betty are doing just that: helping to establish a lasting gift of wellness and recreation for campus and community alike.