A $2 million anonymous pledge received this month will enable Southwestern University to claim $3 million in challenge grants and move forward with construction of an $11 million Center for Lifelong Learning.

The new building will house Southwestern’s innovative Paideia® Program and bring together many key student services and programs into one location, including Academic Services, Career Services, the Cashier’s Office, Counseling and Health Services, and the Registrar’s Office.

Planning for the building started in 2002 after Southwestern received a $2 million “challenge grant” for the project from the Robert & Ruby Priddy Charitable Trust of Wichita Falls, which also provided the initial funding for Southwestern’s Paideia® Program. This challenge required that the University raise $8.5 million in additional gifts and pledges for the project by June 30, 2009.

In April 2006, Southwestern received a second challenge grant for the project from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation of Tulsa, Okla. This challenge promised $1 million for the project if Southwestern could raise the remaining funds for it by April 12, 2007.

Southwestern received a $3.5 million naming gift for the project from the Perkins-Prothro Foundation of Wichita Falls. The new building will be named the Charles & Elizabeth Prothro Center for Lifelong Learning. Other grants include $1 million from the Grogan Lord Foundation of Georgetown, and gifts from the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation, M.D. Anderson Foundation, Amon Carter Foundation, The Fondren Foundation, Hoblitzelle Foundation, The Kendeda Fund, JPMorgan Trust Company, and other individual donors.

“We are very grateful to all the generous donors who are making this new facility possible,” said Southwestern University President Jake Schrum. “This building will enable Southwestern to enhance its student services, will provide exemplary support to the Paideia® Program, and will house a number of programs that encourage Southwestern’s core value related to creating lifelong learners.”

Southwestern’s Paideia® Program, which was launched in 2002, requires students not only to make connections between what they are learning and the world around them but also to act upon their learning. In addition to their overall academic curricula, program participants fulfill requirements in civic engagement, intercultural and diversity experiences, and undergraduate research and creative works. Program participants have frequent small group-seminars with one of the University’s 17 Paideia® Professors and stay with the same cohort of 10 students, all from different academic majors, for six semesters.
The Center for Lifelong Learning is one of the key projects to be funded by Thinking Ahead: The Southwestern Campaign, which was publicly launched in March 2006. The campaign seeks to raise $125 million to fund new initiatives in four broad categories – supporting students, supporting faculty, diversity enrichment, and enhancing the living/learning environment on campus. It is the largest fundraising campaign in Southwestern’s 166-year history.

The $2 million anonymous gift brings the campaign total to more than $60 million – nearly half of the amount being sought.

Construction on the Center for Lifelong Learning is expected to start in early 2008. The building will be three stories tall and approximately 40,000 square feet. It will be the first facility at Southwestern constructed using “green building” guidelines. This means natural light will be brought into all spaces to reduce the need for electricity, and energy also will be saved through the use of energy-efficient windows and heating/cooling systems. There will be minimal use of carpeting and finishes that release harmful chemicals.

For more information on Thinking Ahead: The Southwestern Campaign, visit


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