Renaming of Science Building, fall contact hours among topics discussed at Regents meeting

by Atumn Bippert

The South Plains College Foundation Annual Report, approval for renaming the Science Building and fall contact hours were among the topics discussed during the October meeting of the South Plains College Board of Regents.

Stephen John, vice president for institutional advancement, presented the SPC Foundation Progress Report for 2018 to 2019.

“The Foundation had a very successful and very productive year,” John explained. “Net assets for the Foundation grew 2.54 percent to a record, $23,182,702. While this growth was a little bit less than what we experienced a year ago, when we closed up fiscal year 2018, the fact that we were able to end the fiscal year with the positive change in that aspect was really good.”

John also said that the Foundation received a total of $1,918,308, including $743,516 in contributions to new and existing scholarship funds.

“We had 597 individuals, businesses and organizations give to the Foundation in fiscal year 2019, and that was a 21.6 percent increase in the number of donors,” John said. “The number of individual donors increased by 39 percent over the prior year.”

John said that individuals and SPC employees contributed 45 percent of the total gifts that the Foundation received, with employees making 17 percent of the contributions and individuals at 28 percent. Also, 39 percent of total gifts were contributed by businesses and organizations.

“The fact that our employees are giving a little more than a sixth of the amount of funds that are received by the Foundation is a good sign of support from our employees,” John said.

John added that after discounting grants received for the Lubbock Center, the average gift amount was $1,330.

“The Foundation exists primarily to provide scholarship support or support college students,” explained John. “And this last fiscal year, 853 students benefited from those scholarships that total $953,095, which was a record of about a 4.75 percent increase in the amount of scholarships awarded the prior year.”

John also said that the average scholarship awarded was $1,117, which increased by12 percent from 2018.

The Foundation’s Permanent Scholarship Endowment grew by 2.3 percent, equalling $20.8 million. The Founders Opportunity Endowment grew by 4.1 percent to $4.2 million. The permanent endowment for the Founders Opportunity Endowment fund reached its goal of $3 million, which was set in 1998, for the 2019 fiscal year.

“The primary source of contributions over the past 21 years has been from our two fundraisers, the Scholarship Gala and golf scramble,” John explained. “That is really what has fueled that to that $3 million over that period of time. Our two fundraising events this last year raised $236,000 in net proceeds for scholarships. They were both very successful, and they continue to be an important source for scholarship funds.”

John also mentioned that nine new scholarship endowments were established, and seven additional funds reached endowment status during the year.

Dr. Robin Satterwhite, president of SPC, presented a letter from the William R. & Sandra L. Wheeler Charitable Foundation, Inc. that requested that as a part of their $7 million donation toward the reconstruction of the Science Building that the college rename the building the “Helen and Wilburn Wheeler Science Building,” which was approved by the Board.

“Mr. Wheeler and I’ve been discussing this, and he’ll be delighted,” said Dr. Satterwhite. “They were very impressed and very excited about the renderings of what the building would look like. He’s very proud to have his father’s name on that building, and we should be very proud of that.”

Wilburn Wheeler was a member of the college’s first faculty, and his son, William Wheeler, is an alumni.

The college also has a $5 million commitment from the Helen Jones Foundation and $350,000 from the Montgomery Family Foundation.

“This is the largest construction project we’ve entered into on this campus ever,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “I just am very convinced that this is will be transformative for our college. It will be one of the first things students see. It will change the face of one of our most sought after educational facilities here at the college.”

Dr. Satterwhite said that they anticipate a groundbreaking ceremony and formal announcement of the name change sometime in January.

Dr. Stan DeMerritt, vice president for student affairs, presented the Fall 2019 Contact Hour Report. Dr. DeMerritt pointed out that the college saw a dip in contact hours by 1.2 percent, which is 21,856 hours. The college has a total of 1,842,944 contact hours.

According to the report, contact hours for the Levelland campus dropped by 6.3 percent, which is 54,304 contact hours. The Reese Center also saw a drop of 8.7 percent, or 25,328 contact hours.

The Lubbock Center and Plainview Center saw a rise in contact hours, 11.9 percent (17,552 hours) and 1 percent (608 hours), respectively.

Dr. DeMerritt also presented the Clery Report on Crime and Safety for 2018.

“You’ll find most of our activity, not surprisingly, happens on our Levelland campus as related to housing,” Dr. DeMerritt said. “That’s very common and just part of having a residence life on campus.”

The college is required by the Clery Act to report all crime from the previous year on Aug. 1.

Dr. Ryan Gibbs, vice president for academic affairs, informed the Board that the college received the Texas Workforce Commission Skills Development Grant Award, which is a grant of $506,719.

Dr. Gibbs also reported to the Board that the college’s nursing program was recommended to receive accreditation by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

It also was announced at the October meeting that Board members Linda Patton and Ken Williams are resigning, effective immediately, due to moving outside of the tax district. Williams’ term was to end in May of 2020, and Patton’s term ends in May of 2024.

Chairman Mike Box appointed himself, Bobby Neal and Ronny Alexander to the Appointment of Regents Nomination Subcommittee. The committee will decide to either find someone to fill these chairs immediately, or wait until May for the candidates to run for the position.

Whoever fills Williams’ chair will serve a full six-year term, while whoever fills Patton’s chair will serve for the remaining four-years of the term.