The Merrill Family Sailing Center
The new Merrill Family Sailing center is named in honor of the late Philip Merrill '55. He was an accomplished publisher, diplomat, civic leader, and philanthropist, known for his passion for sound journalism and international affairs.
A graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences, Phil began his life in journalism at Cornell, serving as managing editor of the Cornell Daily Sun. In 1968, he purchased Capital Gazette Newspapers, which published a number of community newspapers in Maryland. He led the company until his death in 2006, tripling its newspaper circulation and adding the Washingtonian Magazine.
During the same period, he maintained a vigorous commitment to public service, giving generously his time and talents as a diplomat and financier for six administrations of the federal government. President George W. Bush appointed him to serve as president and chair of the nation's' Export-Import Bank in 2002, a position he held until 2005.
He was appointed a life member of Cornell University Council in 1999 and named a Presidential Councilor—the highest honor the university can bestow—in 2003. In addition to his support for the Merrill Family Sailing Center, Phil's generosity has also enabled the university to develop and maintain the Merrill Presidential Fellows Program, which honors excellence in teaching at the university and secondary levels.
Phil learned to sail on Long Island Sound as a child. His passion for the sport continued throughout his life. He actively enjoyed cruising adventures in the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas, as well as the Indian and South Pacific Oceans. He was happiest, however, aboard his sailboat ‘Merrilly' cruising the waters of the Chesapeake Bay with family and friends.
The sailing center has replaced our A-frame boathouse at East Shore. The building has two stories and houses not just the team, but also recreational sailing, community sailing, and has excellent space for a limnology lab. On the first floor there is a large team room with lockers, extensive storage space for equipment, as well as two classrooms. The second floor features a large banquet room, coaches' offices, and it opens up onto a large deck. The deck provides visitors with a tremendous view of the area where we host races.
Construction began late November 2007. The building was dedicated on 9 May 2009 by the Merrill Family, and Susan Murphy (Vice President for Student Services and Academic Services) as well as our Provost Kent Fuchs, during a marvellous day of alumni activities, including a Team racing event and barbecue in glorious sunshine.