The Berry Performing Arts Center was abuzz with reporters, Northwest Arkansas residents, professors, students and John Brown University board members. As the house lights dimmed, the voice of JBU’s founder, John E. Brown, Sr., filled the room, describing the university’s mission from 1919.
Now, nearly 100 years later, John Brown’s president, Charles Pollard, stood before the crowd in the Berry Preforming Arts Center to give several exciting announcements, most importantly the “Campaign for the Next Century,” a $125 million capital campaign.
“It is my privilege to announce the public launching of John Brown University’s Campaign for the Next Century,” Pollard began, “giving students a hope and a future. It will be the largest capital campaign in JBU’s history.”
“It will take…hard work, faith and sacrifice from us, the current stewards of JBU’s mission, to complete this capital campaign by Sept. 29, 2019, the 100th anniversary of JBU,” Pollard said.
“This capital campaign will strengthen JBU’s capacity to continue to offer hope and a future to students into the next century of our existence.”
Already, $58 million have been given and pledged to the campaign. The $125 million goal will be divided into five categories, with $30 million going to new facilities and renovations, $35 million for endowment and annual scholarships, $25 million for future projects, $25 million for estates for scholarship and program endowment and $10 million for endowment for academic excellence.
In addition to the capital campaign, Pollard and other JBU faculty and staff announced the upcoming renovation of the Walton Lifetime Health Complex, a $300,000 gift from the Soderquist Family Foundation and a $2 million gift for the newly established Charles Peer Endowed Chair in Visual Arts.
The WLHC renovation is estimated to cost between $4 million and $5.5 million and will include an expansion of the cardio room, a new entrance near the tennis courts, new decking and mechanical systems for the pool and air conditioning throughout the building.
An anonymous $1.2 million has already been given to the project, as well as a preliminary gift of $500,000 from the City of Siloam Springs.
According to Pollard, the Charles Peer Endowed Chair in Visual Arts, named in honor of Mr. Charles Peer, professor of visual arts, will “support Charles, the first holder of the chair, in his teaching, painting and curating as well as the growth in the Visual Arts Department at JBU.”
“I’m completely overwhelmed,” said Peer, who was surprised about the announcement. “It’s an amazing experience to be able to work here with these people, and my colleagues are the best in the world. It’s been a blessing to me, and this…I’m just completely overwhelmed.”