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LeTourneau University holds groundbreaking for student center

By Angela Ward
Sept. 17, 2012 at 11 p.m.

With the turning of ceremonial shovelfuls of dirt by university staff, trustees and students, LeTourneau University on Monday broke ground for the new Anna Lee and Sidney Allen Family Student Center.

The $14 million, 60,000-square-foot center is the cornerstone project of the university's largest-ever capital campaign, which is aiming to raise a total of $27.5 million.

Scheduled to open in March 2014, the student center is named for Longview City Councilman Sidney Allen and his wife, Anna Lee. Neither is a graduate of LeTourneau but have been avid supporters, said President Dale Lunsford.

"You don't have to be a graduate of LeTourneau University to understand and support our mission," he said. "The Allens have helped our students in numerous ways."

The center is designed to be a new crossroads for the campus community, Lunsford said. It will serve as a hub for communication, collaboration, relaxation and fellowship.

Also Monday, Lunsford said the capital campaign, dubbed "For Such A Time As This," already had raised $18 million of the total being sought.

The five main initiatives the campaign will fund include endowed scholarships and endowed professorships, expansions of the university's Center for Faith and Work and its Global Service Learning Center - and construction of the Allen Family Student Center and previously announced Joyce Family Athletic Village.

The student center will be situated on the university mall at the site of the former Skipper Dining Hall, next to the Margaret Estes Library.

Before the ground breaking, Sidney Allen told students and faculty members assembled at the Belcher Center that his involvement with the university began after a LeTourneau student gave a presentation to a Rotary Club.

"I'd urge you all to get involved and actively participate in not only campus life, but the life of the larger Longview community," Allen said. And he reminded the students that it's important to know enough to ask questions.

Anna Lee Allen said that, as a former teacher, education has always been a cause near to her heart.

"We're very proud to have this facility named after us," she said. "LeTourneau is an influential part of our community, and we wanted to help support the students here."

University officials sought input from students about features and services they wanted to see in the new student center. Student body President James Hibish said he appreciated the opportunity to be involved in envisioning the project.

"No building, no matter how magnificent, is going to transform lives," Hibish said. "But the fellowship and conversations that occur within that building certainly can."

Student involvement from the beginning was important, Lunsford said, because the educational process at the university level has become more collaborative in nature.

In addition to study and meeting areas, the new center will add campus dining options, a bookstore, print shop, mail center and more. The Hive, the university's cafe, will be relocated to the new building.

Longview's Transet Co., which has done several construction projects for LeTourneau, is the contractor for the $14 million student center.

Charles Mosiman, a senior from Illinois, said after the groundbreaking that he was excited about the new student center.

"Even though I'll be gone from the campus by the time it opens, I still think it's a great thing for our student body and will help make the LeTourneau experience even better," he said.



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