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In the name of friendship, $750,000 given to UW-River Falls

David Page, the son of the late Don Page, left, and his mother, Jo Page, right, applaud the announcement of a $750,000 gift towards the naming and construction of the Don Page Arena. Photo by Kathy Helgeson/UWRF Communications.

A friendship formed on the basketball court at UW-Madison more than 60 years ago has culminated in a gift that will help ensure the construction of a new athletics arena at UW-River Falls.

Earlier today, during the faculty/staff fall semester opening meeting, UWRF Chancellor Dean Van Galen announced that Ab Nicholas, chairman and CEO of Nicholas Company Inc., has made a $750,000 gift towards the naming and construction of the Don Page Arena. UWRF, in partnership with family and friends of Don Page, is seeking to raise $1 million to name the new arena for Don Page.

The arena will be part of the Falcon Center, which is currently in the design phase and is scheduled for construction beginning in 2014. The Falcon Center is a multi-purpose health and human performance building that will include classrooms, laboratories, recreational spaces and new athletic facilities, as well as updating existing facilities including the Robert P. Knowles Physical Education and Recreation Center and the W.H. Hunt Arena.

"This extraordinary gift honors an extraordinary man, represents a major leadership gift in our Rising to Distinction campaign and brings us closer to our $2 million goal for the Falcon Center," said Van Galen. To date, $1.2 million has been raised towards the $2 million required private contribution to the construction of the $63.5 million Falcon Center.

Page and Nicholas became friends as teammates and starters on the 1950 University of Wisconsin basketball team that finished 17-5 and second in the Big Ten.

Page went on to become the most influential figure in the history of UWRF athletics. His long and distinguished career as a teacher, coach and administrator began in 1957 and lasted until his retirement in 1992.

Page, who died in 2010, was the lone inductee into the UWRF Athletics Hall of Fame in 1992, was inducted into the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2004 and was part of the inaugural Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame class in 2012.

"After all the accolades and all the halls of fame, there can be no greater honor paid to dad than the enshrinement of his legacy in the naming of the arena at UW-River Falls after him," said Page's son David. "Unless, perhaps, that it was made possible by his friend."

For more information, contact Chris Mueller, UW-River Falls executive director of university advancement and president of the UW-River Falls Foundation at 715-425-3505 or