University of Wisconsin: Nick grand opening makes it official

Almost exactly one year after the Nicholas Recreation Center (Nick) opened, campus partners and project supporters celebrated the building in an official grand opening ceremony on Friday, September 10. The original ceremony, scheduled for last September, was postponed due to the pandemic.

Speakers included Recreation & Wellbeing Director Aaron Hobson, President and CEO of the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association Mike Knetter, Director of Athletics Chris McIntosh, UW–Madison alumna Jackie Elliott, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Lori Reesor, Ab and Nancy Nicholas’s daughter Sue Nicholas Fasciano, and Chancellor Rebecca Blank.

“It’s difficult to imagine a project more important at this moment when many of our students have been experiencing isolation and anxiety,” said Chancellor Blank. “For our students, this is a place to stay healthy, to blow off steam and relax, to learn new skills, to socialize and build community, and to develop lifelong habits that support physical and mental wellbeing.”

The event was a chance to celebrate the building while honoring and thanking the donors who made it possible, including Ab and Nancy Nicholas and their family, the lead donors on the project, and the Soderholm family, the lead donor for the aquatic center.

In its first year of operation, the Nick had more than 591,000 visits, 88% of which were UW–Madison students. It is the second of four projects in the Rec Well Master Plan.