Ozarks Announces $7 Million Gift to Fund Education, Communications Building

Release Date: 10/7/2000

CLARKSVILLE, Ark. ---University of the Ozarks has announced a $7 million gift from the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation of Springdale to construct a new educational facility on the university's campus in Clarksville. The announcement was made Saturday morning at the university's Fall Board of Trustees Meeting.

The 34,108 square-foot structure will house the university's teacher education and communications programs. Designed to provide state-of-the-art technological support for these programs, the new building will be built on the site of Hurie Hall, an 80-year-old structure that is no longer habitable.

The Walkers have a long tradition of supporting U of O, including a major endowed scholarship fund, and previous gifts toward the construction of the Walton Fine Arts Center and the Robson Library. They are well known for their philanthropy throughout Arkansas, having supported numerous causes, including many gifts to education and healthcare.

    "Our entire campus community is ecstatic," said Ozarks President Dr. Rick Niece. "The Walkers already have done much for our students, and their caring generosity now will provide wonderful educational opportunities for generations of students."

He said the gift also solved a serious facilities problem for the campus.

"Along with our Chapel, Hurie Hall is one of our best-recognized facilities and has served thousands of students through the years," Niece said. "Unfortunately, it was vacated five years ago due to serious structural problems, many of which were long-term effects of a fire in 1929. The cost to renovate the old structure was tremendously prohibitive and would have gone higher were additional flaws discovered during a renovation process."

   
Niece says the Walker's generosity gives Ozarks the best of both worlds with a building that elegantly blends the past, present and future. Walker Hall is designed to replicate the exterior appearance of Hurie Hall, and will incorporate original elements from Hurie, including its stately columns and distinctive roof design and capstones. The new building will be slightly larger, however, to accommodate growing programmatic needs, and will be fitted with state-of-the-art electronic computer and communications support systems and equipment to better meet the technological needs of increasingly sophisticated, modern classrooms.
   
"Ultimately Walker Hall will retain the classic style and charm of Hurie Hall, but will provide an unrivaled educational experience for our students in teacher education and communications," Niece said.
   
Construction is slated to begin following graduation in May 2001, and is scheduled for completion by spring of 2003.

   
The gift comes during the Presbyterian college's $55 million comprehensive campaign To Preserve the Pride, To Keep the Promise. A four-year liberal arts college, Ozarks is ranked among the top tier of liberal arts institutions in the South by U.S. News & World Report.