The university is changing. There are more mouths to feed in Hardy, more bodies that need beds and more cars than parking spots.
Students do not have to fight however, for a place to call home and rest their weary heads at night. The university has been proactive in planning and preparing for the amount of growth projected for the future at UMHB.
The first building that will start this domino effect of construction on campus is Garner Hall. Completed this fall, the new residence is home to 141 students and a residence hall director, Patti Johnson.
“I believe adding the additional beds and having them to offer has been a benefit for allowing more students to live on campus and continue to be involved in campus activities,” Johnson said.
To officially recognize the hard work and commitment put into the latest building, a dedication ceremony was held in honor of John Hood Garner and Alleen Weatherford Garner Oct. 22.
Both longtime residents of Belton, the Garners always had a passion to help young people in Bell County further their education. The couple left behind no children to inherit their property and valuables. A charity was founded in their name to help support organizations that give young people a better opportunity in life.
Several years ago, the trust stepped in to partner with the university on the project.
The speech that President Randy O’Rear delivered during the ceremony recognized the growth and need for development on campus.
“The hallmark of UMHB education has always been the personal attention we provide to our students,” he said. “As we grow, we believe it’s important to provide our students with safe affordable housing on campus, so they can learn and live in a supportive Christian setting during the important years when they are transitioning from living with mom and dad to living on their own.”
The board of trustees, faculty and staff, students and members of the Garner family were in attendance to witness the dedication.
John Garner’s brother and sister-in-law, Bill and Nancy Garner, along with Wendell Williams, a trustee for the Garner Charitable Trust, accepted the plaque as a token of appreciation and assisted with the honors of cutting the ribbon.
Student body President and senior international business major Tommy Wilson also addressed the crowd of several hundred by inviting them to look at several apartments and thanking the family on behalf of the students.
“Thank you for all your hard work, prayers and support that you have invested into our university,” he said. “Through God using students, administration, donors, trustees and friends, we have seen this place become a great light among the other universities in our world.”