P. Sue Beckwith, M.D.
Des Moines, Iowa
As a former University of Iowa Hawkeye women’s basketball letterwinner, 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,” Beckwith, a Des Moines surgeon, says. “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 conditions in which they worked so hard to represent their University—left a powerful impression on her.
Now, Beckwith has forever altered the future of UI athletics and generations of student-athletes. With the help of her extremely generous leadership gift to The University of Iowa Foundation, the UI has begun work on the P. Sue Beckwith, M.D., Boathouse.
Beckwith, who earned two degrees from the UI (1980 B.A., 1984 M.D.), was motivated to make her 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 have nothing.”
Thanks to leadership from Beckwith—who has also endowed athletic scholarships for Hawkeye rowers and women’s basketball players—that’s going to change with the construction of the P. Sue Beckwith, M.D. Boathouse.
Fundraising on the project is ongoing. As with the sport Beckwith has come to love, everyone will have to pull together to meet the goals necessary to build a facility which will advance the UI rowing team’s competitiveness in the Big Ten and nationally.
”It’s a big project,” Beckwith says. “We’re going to need a lot of help and a lot people on board contributing their efforts.”