Announcing The Mel and Diane Baiada Field House

Photo: Head of School Larry Van Meter, Mel Baiada, Diane Baiada, and School Committee Clerk Nick Smith

On September 23 at a special gathering with trustees and the school’s administrative council, the Field House was renamed The Mel and Diane Baiada Field House in thanks and recognition for the $3 million challenge match that Mel and Diane Baiada made as part of the Campaign for Arts, Athletics and Endowment in 2001. This generous gift helped to make the construction of the Field House and the renovation to the Arts Center possible.

At the gathering, remarks were shared by Head of School Larry Van Meter, School Committee Clerk Nick Smith, former Upper School Director and current trustee Barbara Caldwell, Athletic Director Danielle Dayton, and Mel Baiada.

“At the time, (Head of School) Alan Craig shared the news with me as I was the Head-Elect and had yet to begin at Moorestown Friends,” said Mr. Van Meter. “I celebrated this transformative gift as both the incoming Head of School and also as an alumnus of the school. It was so exciting to think about the impact these facilities would have on our school community. Fourteen years later we now know what important spaces these are for our students and faculty.”

Mel and Diane Baiada have been shining examples of commitment to MFS. Their daughter Caitlin graduated in 2006 and daughter Emma graduated in 2010. At auction time, Diane was always present to organize the Live auction and create a beautiful display of the items to inspire donors. Mel joined the School Committee in 2001 and served through 2010. Mel and Diane have continued to have a strong relationship with the school. Mel has hosted a whole cadre of Senior Project students at his business, Basecamp Ventures, providing opportunities, and guidance to many young alumni. He continued sharing his time and talent last spring, when he provided keynote remarks at the 2016 Career Day for the juniors and seniors. Mel also enjoys participating in the annual MFS alumni soccer match on Thanksgiving weekend.

When Mel and Diane made their $3 million gift, they were offered the opportunity to name the Field House. At that time they decided to name the Field House simply as the Field House.  With both of their young girls still at MFS, they felt uncomfortable utilizing the naming opportunity. Last winter, Head of School Larry Van Meter and School Committee Clerk Nick Smith circled back to that conversation with Mel and Diane, and the timing seemed right to them. On March 17, 2016, the School Committee approved the naming of The Mel and Diane Baiada Field House in recognition of their generosity, leadership, and dedication to the mission of Moorestown Friends School.

“We were very fortunate with our company and wanted to share that,” said Mel Baiada. “We had experienced first-hand the valuable and important work that is done here at MFS. It is great to see what a great impact these spaces have had on many people’s lives these past 14 years.”

This past summer, signage with the new name was added to the Field House. The building was painted on the outside and inside the Field House Gym. New MFS banners and Friends School League banners were installed, and the MFS Foxes logo was placed at center court. The trophy cases in the entrance hallway of the Field House and the campaign donor listing were all refreshed. A new scorer’s table with the name of The Mel and Diane Baiada Field House will also be installed, thanks to a gift from the Class of 2016, in time for the first home game in December 2016.

In deciding to accept the naming offer from the school, Mel and Diane hoped that attaching their name to the facilities would encourage others to consider lead gifts to the school. “We think it’s important to provide a tangible example to our children and others of the value of philanthropy to a community which does such important and good work.’ said Mel.