Volume 16 • Issue 3

Service-Learning to Find a New Home at Southwestern

Ernest Valdez ’06
Southwestern @ Georgetown
The architect’s rendering of the Charles and Elizabeth Prothro Center for Lifelong Learning, made possible by a gift from the Perkins-Prothro Foundation.

This spring, the Perkins–Prothro Foundation of Wichita Falls, Texas, pledged $3.5 million to the University in support of a lifelong learning center. In recognition of this gift, it will be named the Charles and Elizabeth Prothro Center for Lifelong Learning.

This center will also house Southwestern’s Paideia Program, a program that places intentional emphasis on both academic and practical knowledge and forging connections between the classroom and the larger community. The Farrington Suite, another element of the center, will provide accommodations for the centralization of student services, ultimately benefiting the entire campus community. The 49,000-square-foot building also includes space for Information Technology Services and faculty offices. The Charles and Elizabeth Prothro Center for Lifelong Learning will be Southwestern’s first facility designed to meet “green building,” or environmentally sustainable, design guidelines. Other significant financial support for the Center has come from the Robert & Ruby Priddy Charitable Trust, the Lord Foundation Inc. and the Hoblitzelle Foundation.

President Jake B. Schrum described the gift as “a splendid endorsement of the Perkins and Prothro families’ belief that Southwestern continues to prepare graduates who are ‘bright, moral and courageous.’” The University’s relationship with the Perkins–Prothro families dates back nearly a century. Previous gifts from the Prothros and Perkins have provided for renovations to the Chapel, for library acquisitions, for the expansion of the Frank A. Smith Library Center and for construction of the Red and Charline McCombs Campus Center.

Beyond its financial contributions, the family has also given significantly of its time to the University. Charles Prothro served on Southwestern’s Board of Trustees from 1952–1982. He was chair of the Board for 11 of those years. Continuing his father’s generous service to the University, Joe N. Prothro joined the Board of Trustees in 1982 and served until 1998. He now serves on the University’s Board of Visitors.

The University’s efforts to promote lifelong learning were also furthered last year by a $25,000 grant from the W.D. Kelley Foundation, a local philanthropic organization supporting projects for education, recreation, religion, and family and health services. The gift from the Foundation has had far-reaching implications for service and service-learning programs on the University’s campus. Most significantly, the Foundation’s gift to Southwestern was directed toward hiring a full-time coordinator of volunteer resources and community-based learning to work with faculty and students on community projects. Having a dedicated staff person, who has a more intentional approach to service, has greatly increased the scope and quantity of service projects accomplished by students with numerous, corresponding benefits for the surrounding community. In the 2004-2005 academic year, Southwestern students worked with 58 non-profit organizations, and the Office of Volunteer Resources has documented well over 18,000 hours of community service by students.