Alumni couple provide seven-figure gift to establish the Henni Kantor Kessler & John H. Kessler Stadium
WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J – When the first game is played September 2, 2017, the $16 million home of more than half of Monmouth’s student athletes, including football, lacrosse and track & field athletes, will have a new name thanks to a generous seven-figure gift made by Henni ’68 and John ’69 Kessler.
Monmouth’s September 2 football game against Lafayette (3 p.m.) will mark the first game in Henni Kantor Kessler & John H. Kessler Stadium. The Kesslers were members of the original “Touchdown Club,” which helped bring football to the school back in 1992. Henni and John pledged the first gift to get the original Kessler Field built, and saw more than 350,000 fans support 109 football games during the past 24 years.
“Twenty-five years ago we were really excited about starting football and gifting the field,” said John Kessler. “Henni and I knew that football would make a change at Monmouth but not to this degree. We couldn’t be prouder of making this donation and look forward to an incredible future for football and for the University.”
“Henni and John have been long time supporters of the football program, our athletics department and the University,” said Monmouth University President Grey J. Dimenna. “Their service and generous contributions over the last 25 years have improved the lives of countless student-athletes. They have a great love for Monmouth and we are proud to count them among our most dedicated alumni.”
The Kesslers have been involved with Monmouth University since arriving on campus as students. Both Henni and John have a long history with Hawk athletics, Henni serving as captain of the cheerleading team while John played baseball for the Blue & White. Henni is a former trustee and member of the University’s Society of Trustees, while John is a trustee emeritus.
The couple has been giving back to the school since the tenure of President Emeritus Samuel H. Magill, including the Henni Kessler Endowed Cheerleading Scholarship and a significant gift to construct the OceanFirst Bank Center, which is home to the Henni Kantor Kessler Varsity Club.
“On behalf of the entire department of athletics, I’d like to thank Henni and John for not only their support of this project but for years of previous giving,” said Vice President and Director of Athletics Dr. Marilyn McNeil. “The Kessler name has been associated with Monmouth Football since its inception and this most recent gift solidifies that association for the future.”
Construction began on the Kessler Stadium project prior to the start of the 2016 football season, with the old structure being completely removed days after Monmouth’s last home game on Oct. 29. The new stadium features more than 4,200 seats, including 800 chair-back seats, and stretches from endzone to endzone. The facility includes full concourse with concession stands and bathrooms, a state-of-the-art press box, multimedia booths, coaches’ booths and a ticket office.
“We are beyond excited to play in what will now be known as Kessler Stadium,” said Monmouth Football Head Coach Kevin Callahan, who has been the program’s only coach. “John and Henni were instrumental in bringing football to Monmouth University, instrumental in building Kessler Field and have now been instrumental in this brand new stadium. We are eternally grateful for their continued support and contributions to not only the Monmouth football program but the University as a whole.”
Fans are invited to a free ribbon cutting ceremony at 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 2 prior to kickoff. If you would like more information about this day or to R.S.V.P. to the BBQ (1-3 p.m. please contact Ken Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monmouth University football will begin its fourth year as a member of the Big South Conference. The Hawks will have five home games this season, beginning with the season-opener against Lafayette College. Monmouth men’s and women’s lacrosse programs and track & field teams play in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
Follow the Kessler Stadium construction progress on twitter @MonmouthStadium