TRANSYLVANIA'S 225TH ANNIVERSARY CAMPAIGN MAKES GREAT PROGRESS, BUT CHALLENGES REMAIN
By William A. Bowden
Transylvania’s five-year, $32 million 225th Anniversary Campaign has reached the midway point, with strong support resulting in $25 million raised thus far. Donations for the endowed scholarships portion of the campaign have exceeded the goal, while completion of funding for the renovation of science laboratories and construction of a residence hall remain as the campaign’s biggest challenges.
“Participation in the campaign from all of our constituents has been very gratifying,” President Charles L. Shearer said. “We are well on our way to meeting the overall goal. However, it is crucial that we focus our energies on the lab renovations and new housing for our students during the second half of the campaign.”
The campaign set a goal of $9 million for endowment growth, with $6 million for endowed scholarships and $3 million for endowed academic chairs.
Approximately $10 million has been donated for endowed scholarships, including a $1 million challenge grant from the William R. Kenan Charitable Trust to support merit scholarships. Transylvania will need to raise an additional $1 million to claim the grant.
“The outpouring of gifts for our endowed scholarships is very gratifying,” said Richard Valentine, vice president for alumni and development. “People are investing in our students, and that’s exciting to see. However, just because we have surpassed our goal in this area doesn’t mean we’re going to stop. Scholarships are critical to attracting the most qualified students to Transylvania.”
One of the three $1 million endowed chairs envisioned in the campaign goals has been funded as the University met a $500,000 challenge grant from the W. Paul and Lucille Caudill Little Foundation to establish the Lucille C. Little Endowed Chair in Theater. (More information on implementation of this chair will follow in a future Transylvania magazine.)
Brown Science Center
Funding thus far for renovation of Brown Science Center has covered an extensive refurbishing of the 37-year-old building’s heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning system, plus renovation of two physics labs and creation of a new biology lab in a former greenhouse space.
Already, the new lab spaces are fulfilling their potential to facilitate teaching and inspire students. The inviting new environments reflect changing trends in how science is taught and the way in which researchers work.
“Science has gotten so complicated and it’s so collaborative now,” biology professor James Wagner said. “We are making our lab spaces much more flexible with such things as tables on casters that can be rearranged in a matter of minutes to accommodate either lectures or projects where students work closely together.”
The upgraded spaces also feature new windows to let in natural light and new furnishings and flooring that are lighter in color to brighten the overall atmosphere. “When you go into these spaces now, it’s an uplifting feeling,” Wagner said.
The biology lab created from a greenhouse space features a new Beckman Coulter CEQ 8000 genetic analysis system, a sophisticated gene sequencer machine typically found only at large research universities. “This device is what you see on the CSI shows, where DNA analysis is used to help solve crimes,” Wagner said. “It’s what modern biology is dealing with, and our students will have an enormous advantage by getting hands-on experience with the machine.”
Renovated physics labs are allowing for a much better integration of lecture and lab work, according to physics professor Jamie Day.
“Because of the flexibility of this space, we can be working at the board on formulas and equations for, say, Newton’s laws, and then almost instantaneously the students can turn and do a lab project to illustrate those laws, while the concepts are still fresh in their minds.”
Renovation of the remaining chemistry and biology labs will take place in the near future, as funding from the campaign makes that possible. In the meantime, the changes so far have been stunning, said Wagner. “Students are very excited about having classes in these new spaces. It’s been great.”
Timely completion of the Brown Science Center project is critical to ensure that Transylvania continues its tradition of excellence in the sciences and students leave Transy well prepared to take on the challenges of top graduate and professional schools as they pursue science careers in healthcare, research, teaching, and industry.
“We need to raise at least another $3 million to finish the work in the science center,” said Shearer. “The sciences are at the heart of Transylvania’s academic programs and have established our outstanding reputation in this area. It’s very important that we remain competitive in attracting the best students by having modern facilities and the most up-to-date equipment.”
Construction for phase I of a new residence hall facility that will feature suite-style amenities will begin this summer.
Another key component of the campaign is the addition of a residence hall that will offer suite-style amenities while allowing for the decompression of space in existing traditional residence halls.
The 60-bed facility for upper-class students will feature units that include a living room, bathroom, and bedroom, with two residents in each unit. The estimated cost is $4.3 million for what is planned to be the first in a two-building complex. Groundbreaking for the project is planned for this summer. To create space for the residence hall in the back circle area of campus, three of the six tennis courts have been moved to a site near the corner of Fourth and Bourbon streets.
“Today’s students are looking for more individualized living spaces,” said Shearer. “This new residence hall will add to our ability to offer that, while letting us free up space in Forrer and Clay/Davis halls for new study areas.”
Overall, Shearer feels Transylvania is making excellent progress in the 225th Anniversary Campaign.
“We have great momentum, and I’m confident we’ll meet our remaining goals,” he said. “There are still many opportunities for support that will make a dramatic difference to our students and faculty, in particular the science center work and our new residence hall. This campaign is going to have a lasting effect on the quality of living and learning at Transylvania.”