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McDonald Gymnasium

When McDonald Gymnasium opened its doors in 1958, it immediately became a campus landmark. It was the home of basketball, volleyball and high school sports, as well as the site of commencement ceremonies, concerts and a host of other events. Lamar University Athletics had offices in the facility and entertainment legends from Isaac Hayes to Chuck Mangione performed there.

But the real reason McDonald Gym means so much to Lamar University is Dr. F.L. McDonald, Lamar's fourth president, in whose honor the building was named. Dr. McDonald was a popular and trail-blazing president. He was in the president's office from 1952 until 1967, making him the longest-serving president in Lamar's history.

Volleyball match action Presiding over Lamar during a period of rapid growth, he worked to expand the curriculum, attract faculty to the senior college and new graduate school, and build a campus adequate for the greatly expanded institution. As president, Dr. McDonald became affectionately known as Dr. Mac. Almost every year while he was president, the Lamar marching band awakened him on his birthday by playing a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday" on his front lawn. For many years, it was a rare thing to find a sporting event at Lamar where Dr. McDonald was not in attendance.
When it came time to honor the man who held a keen love for athletic competition, it was fitting that the building chosen would be the epicenter of athletic competition on campus. Those who knew Dr. Mac were indeed fortunate.

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In 2006, McDonald Gym received a significant renovation as part of the creation of the $6.2 million Sheila Umphrey Recreational Sports Center. Today it is the competition venue for Lamar University Volleyball and features a high performance maple wood floor and retractable spectator seating for 500 fans. The facility also includes:
  • Coaches offices for Cross Country, Tennis, Track & Field, and Volleyball
  • Separate locker and shower facilities for Lamar University's Cross Country, Tennis, Track & Field, and Volleyball teams, event officials, coaches, and visiting teams
  • Athletic Training Suite which includes Athletic Training staff offices, an examination room, evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation areas and hydrotherapy room
  • Student Athlete Lounge with couches, massage chair, flat-panel television and vending machines
  • Student Athlete Study Center with four private study rooms, a Computer Lab with 14 computer work stations, and the offices for two Athletic Academic Affairs coordinators