Southwestern University received a $3 million pledge from the Cullen Trust for Higher Education to complete the second phase of renovations on the Roy and Lillie Cullen Building. The first phase of renovations is expected to be completed in July.
“Over the past 100 years, the Roy and Lillie Cullen Building has become our signature campus building,” Southwestern University President Jake Schrum said in a statement. “We are deeply grateful for the generosity from the Cullen Trust for Higher Education to assure the continued prominence and beauty of this grand icon.”
The pledge is the third major gift from the Houston-based trust, which previously gave $10 million for renovations to the building.
Although a construction timeline has not been set, the second phase of renovations will be completed in two parts beginning on the third floor. Once those renovations are completed, the university will begin construction on the first floor.
“The most important part is upgrading the [heating, ventilation and air-conditioning] and electrical systems, and upgrading the infrastructure to make the space work better for the people who are working there,” said Bob Mathis, associate vice president for facilities and campus services.
The renovations will reconfigure the third floor to include seven classrooms, as well as a learning commons that will serve as an area for students to go to before or after classes to work on projects, Mathis said. The commons area could include computer stations, whiteboards, a flat-screen TV, a breakout room, sink and vending machines.
“It’s unusual to have classrooms in an administration building, but we said from very beginning there would always be classrooms in the cornerstone building of the university,” Mathis said.
The space could also be used as a small conference area and could be rented to area businesses for meetings during the summer or when students were not using the space, he said.
After the third floor is completed, construction to renovate the offices on the first floor would begin, including the fiscal affairs, business, human resources, president and provost’s offices.
The space would also include a 1,300-square-foot heritage center, which would include pieces of the university’s history including documents and artwork.
Mathis said the space could be used for luncheons or as a conference room and would serve to immerse people in the heritage of Southwestern.
“Southwestern University would be showcased in that room,” he said.
The Cullen Building was built between 1898 and 1900 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was renamed the Cullen Building in 1977 after a gift from the Cullen Foundation funded its first major renovation in the 1970s.
“We are very appreciative of the fund and so glad to be renovating this building,” Mathis said.