On Jan. 14, Southwestern University received a $1 million challenge grant from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation in Tulsa, Okla., for construction of a new science center.
The university must raise $1 million in matching funds by the end of 2013.
“In the coming months, we will visit with and formally apply to a number of foundations mostly in Texas that either have a history of supporting Southwestern or have a specific interest in science, and in effect ask them to match the Mabee challenge grant,” said Rick McKelvey, vice president for institutional advancement at Southwestern. “We are hopeful we can do that over the next six months.”
If raised, the additional $1 million will bring the total funding raised to build the facility to $8 million and would allow the university to begin the first phase of construction on the project, McKelvey said. Phase 1 includes adding 23,700 square feet to the existing Fondren-Jones Science Building.
McKelvey said construction could begin in late 2013 or early 2014.
“[The challenge grant] is a vote of confidence in the institution and in the need for a science center,” he said. “It provides a million dollars, which obviously is a critical part in reaching $8 million, and history shows that when you go to funding sources with a challenge grant, there is heightened interest in helping the institution meet that challenge in a certain time frame.”
The design for the first phase is under way, and the new space could be open to students in the 2015–16 academic year, according to a news release.
The project’s second phase will include remodeling the portions of the building constructed in 1954. After renovations, a three-story entrance will be built on the building’s northwest side.
“Our objective is to provide a great science education,” McKelvey said. “We have the faculty. We have the students. Now we want to have a contemporary facility that meets their level.”
The total project is expected to cost $24 million. Other grants for the first phase include $3 million from The Cullen Foundation, $1 million from the Fondren Foundation, $1 million from The Brown Foundation Inc. and $250,000 from the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation.