Not only was this past weekend the university’s Homecoming celebration, but it was also the first groundbreaking for the campus master plan.
A ceremony was held Sept. 30 on the corner of 9th Avenue and Shine Street where next fall the Baugh Center for the Visual Arts will stand.
During the welcome, President Dr. Randy O’Rear commented on the significance of the groundbreaking.
“This is the beginning of a new chapter here at UMHB,” he said. “This is the first official groundbreaking ceremony of the new master plan, and we couldn’t be more excited.”
The $5 million project will unify the art students, faculty and staff in a state of the art two-story building.
Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts Ted Barnes realizes the impact the new building will have on the current students as well as prospective ones.
He listed five reasons the center will be important: Students and faculty will have top studio classrooms for their art; the layout will be designed for common areas to create interaction; it will feature an exhibition space; it will help with the first impression prospective art students have of UMHB; and create a positive impression on visitors.
“The new art building will really show the students that the visual arts are valued as a part of UMHB’s academics,” Barnes said.
The 27,000 square feet facility, will allow students to spread out to work on projects as well as use the lounge area for brainstorming and gathering inspiration.
Junior art education major Maddie Phillip spoke on behalf of the art department students at the groundbreaking.
“Art students learn from the things around us,” she said. “We are excited to study in a beautiful building.”
All of the speakers at the ceremony placed emphasis on the building’s being a home for art students and not just a structure.
“Since art students spend so much time working on projects, it’s good that the design is open and spacious,” Phillip said.
Of course, the new center could not be completed without a philanthropic donation to the university. In 2009, The Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation offered $1 million to the development of the arts at UMHB.
The foundation was established in 1995 by John Baugh and his wife to continue their philanthropic donations to Baptist programs and institutions after they passed away. During their lifetimes, they also gave generously to UMHB to help in the construction of the Frank and Sue Mayborn Campus Center and the Paul and Jane Meyer Christian Studies Center.
John Baugh started his career in Waco, and eventually founded the world’s largest food company, Sysco Corporations. Baugh served as chairman, CEO and senior chairman of Sysco and helped it grow from $115 million annually to $30 billion.
Their daughter, Babs Baugh, is the president of the foundation, and her daughters, Jackie Moore and Julie Ortiz, were present at the groundbreaking to represent the foundation.
Unannounced and unscripted, Baugh took to the podium before the dedicatory prayer and called all students to the front. She told the audience that the students are the future of our country, and they are why her parents’ foundation was started.
“The arts are important,” she said. “It’s what your soul’s made of, and it’s how we express beauty to God. Thank you, students, for expressing joy in what God is doing in your life.”
She encouraged the crowd to participate in young people’s lives whether it is donating money for a classroom, a folding chair or a pencil.
The new building will be open for classes in August 2012 and will feature state of the art equipment.
One exciting feature will be interactive projectors on the walls in some of the rooms. They will allow for more student interaction as well as creating an environment for students to teach each other.
Although art students are excited to move out of Presser, they will not forget the memories and art they made there.
Senior Vice President for Campus Planning and Support Services Edd Martin said, “Presser will continue to be used by the College of Visual and Performing Arts for their other programs. There is a performing arts facility on the master plan coming in later years. I am sure there will be some remodeling to take place in Presser in the not too distant future.”
The Baugh Center is just the first groundbreaking on the master plan for campus improvements.
“I never expected all of this,” Philip said. “I am so excited for what it is going to be and for what it means for the art department. It will be my new home away from home.”