“This is the largest gift commitment in HSU history,” Dr. Lanny Hall, president of Hardin-Simmons University, announced as students, faculty and staff, alumni, and community leaders rose to their feet with resounding confirmation.
Standing on stage in the midst of the excitement was Will Wilkins. He and his wife Janice are the donors of the historic $16 million gift and the family leading the charge in the largest fundraising campaign in the university’s history.
The official opening of the 2013-2014 school year began with the announcement of the aptly-named fundraising campaign, TRANSFORMATION 2020, which seeks to realize gifts of $60 million to complete the first phase of a master plan that will dramatically alter the face of the Hardin-Simmons University campus.
“We hope within the next three years – by HSU’s 125th birthday – we will raise an unprecedented amount of money to meet our needs for the future,” said Hall.
Will Wilkins, a 1961 graduate and member of the HSU Board of Trustees, is the chairman of the TRANSFORMATION 2020 capital campaign as well as the patriarch of the family providing the leveraging gift.
This morning’s announcement featured a video of the master plan that laid out a series of new buildings, renovations, and additions to the present campus, with a focus on the two most immediate additions, a wellness center and a spacious education building, both to be constructed on the west end of the central campus.
“In recognition of the magnificent generosity of Will and Janice Wilkins, the wellness center will be known as the Wilkins Wellness Center,” said the president. Hall drew a round of laughter when he immediately quipped, “I predict that the students will quickly name it the WWC!”
Hall explained that the Wilkins’s second naming gift, which will house a portion of the Irvin School of Education, will be called the Christopher Education Building, the last name of Janice Wilkins’ grandparents, and honoring the role the Christopher family has played in public education.
“Because of their commitment of resources, we will be able to move forward on the detailed architectural planning on both projects and proceed toward groundbreaking and the beginning of construction in 2014,” Hall advised.
Hall also shared other proposed projects included in the master plan:
- Renovation of Behrens Auditorium, the building in which Convocation, chapel, graduation, and numerous fine arts events are held
- Renovation of Van Ellis Theatre
- The addition of spectator seating at the soccer and softball fields
- Spectator seating at the track facility on Grape Street
- Construction of two new residence halls on Simmons Street
- Parking garage on Simmons Street
- Additional parking facility on Hickory Street
The video also revealed the master plans’ broad goals, which include expanding successful academic programs, intensifying efforts to help students succeed in their academic and professional growth, amplifying and expanding campus facilities and aesthetics, and enhancing the reach of the university’s primary mission to transform lives through an education enlightened by faith.
A supplemental portion of Hall’s presentation also featured a community renewal proposal. The Pine Street Development Project is expected to attract a number of community partners and investors interested in a retail development and loft apartments. Hall said the Pine Street development could include a restaurant, a coffee shop, copy center, and other stores that will serve HSU students, faculty and staff, as well as the Abilene community.
Hall said gift commitments to TRANSFORMATION 2020 have already reached $27,950,443, which is 46.6% of the campaign’s first phase goal.
“We have much to celebrate today! And we do so with thanksgiving for the generosity of our campaign chairman, Mr. Will Wilkins and his wife, Janice.”
You may access the TRANSFORMATION 2020 campaign brochure by way of the QR code included in the Convocation program or by going to www.hsutx.edu or http://transformation.hsutx.edu/.
Campus transformation can also be followed online via twitter (@HardinSimmons) or facebook, or by using the hashtag #HSUtransforms.