Siloam Springs, Ark (April 6, 2000) - Groundbreaking for the new Pat and Willard Walker Student Center took place at 11:15 a.m. on April 6, on the JBU campus in Siloam Springs. "We are excited about this new chapter in the life of JBU --- the new student center will change the face of the main campus and meet many urgent needs for our undergraduate students," said Dr. Lee Balzer, JBU president.
The groundbreaking was preceded by a chapel service sponsored by the Soderquist Leadership Center, featuring speaker Don Soderquist. He addressed issues of leadership and ethics in today’s business culture. Soderquist is chairman of the JBU Board of Trustees and senior vice chairman for Wal-Mart, Inc. The chapel was part of a week-long emphasis on leadership and ethics sponsored by the Soderquist Leadership Center. Soderquist then introduced Pat and Willard Walker to the JBU community and invited guests.
Following the introduction of the Walkers, Dr. Balzer officially announced the naming of the facility as the Pat and Willard Walker Student Center in honor of the Walkers’ generous gift of $4 million to the project. "Pat and Willard Walker are making a major difference in the lives of thousands of students through their vision," said Balzer.
The Walkers live in Springdale and their philanthropic giving has been instrumental in assisting various organizations and needs throughout Northwest Arkansas and Little Rock, including the Jones Center for Families. "Willard and Pat have been friends for a long time. I have always appreciated their focus in helping to strengthen family relationships and the education of our youth. Their very generous support of numerous organizations in Northwest Arkansas is a wonderful legacy of their vision," said Don Soderquist.
The student center, scheduled to be open Fall 2001, will become the spiritual and social hub of the campus. It will house the biblical studies division, classrooms, student development and campus ministries offices, coffee shop, bookstore, post office and the Center for Marriage and Family Studies. It will also include residence hall space for 156 students. "The Pat and Willard Walker Student Center is a unique facility in that it symbolizes the integration of faith, learning and living, which is key to the heart of JBU," said Dr. Alan Cureton, JBU vice president for university advancement.
John Brown University’s mission is to provide Christ-centered higher education which contributes dynamically to the intellectual, spiritual and occupational effectiveness of men and women in God-honoring living and service. "It is our desire that this facility will be a reminder of the commitment and generosity of the Walkers’ support of Christian higher education and the high standards of excellence at John Brown University," said president Balzer.