AU celebrates “transformational” campus projects
ASHLAND, Ohio – Hundreds of Ashland University students, faculty and staff gathered together Saturday afternoon for a celebration—an official dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the completion of major renovations to Clayton Hall and the significant progress made on numerous campus beautification projects.
These undertakings are truly transformational, a term that was used repeatedly during the dedication. Carlos Campo, president of AU, called it “a historic day” and described the new-look campus as a “once-in-a-generation transformation.”
Later, the primary benefactor, Dwight Schar ’64, noted these projects are “more literally transformative than most. Clayton Hall, the library, the bridges, the walkways, the student spaces all will be transformed. Thanks to all … who really pushed this through.”
Schar and his wife, Martha, deflected much of the credit, humorously calling it a “little facelift.” However, these transformational projects were only attainable by their continued remarkable support of Ashland University.
One financial gift resulted in a full-scale renovation to Clayton Hall over the summer. Elated students recently moved into the nine-story residence hall now featuring modern-day comforts such as air conditioning and two-person suites with private bathrooms, as well as new windows and LED lighting to improve energy efficiency.
A second financial gift is magnifying the beauty of the AU campus, and at the same time, upgrading safety, access and function in multiple areas. Many of these beautification projects are in progress, highlighted by the replacement of walkways on the Avenue of Eagles, the construction of two outdoor plazas adjacent to the John C. Myers Convocation Center and the redevelopment of the Gill Welcome Center parking area. They are scheduled to be completed by the end of the fall semester, while others, including the addition of a glassed-in atrium café at the Archer Library, will carry over into next year.
Together, the nearly $20 million in gifts will overhaul the look of the campus, but as Schar noted, it is the people who make Ashland special and they are the reason why he and his wife have been so generous. “A college is more than brick buildings and arches and pathways, more than classrooms and laboratories. It’s the students, the faculty, the staff (who) are the heart of Ashland. Martha and I try to focus our giving on transformational projects. We chose to invest in this campus beautification because we want every prospective and current student, every visitor to see the campus itself for the university’s commitment to excellence,” he summed up.
This campus transformation has been the result of thousands of work-hours. There were between 30 and 40 different contractors on campus this summer, according to Rick Ewing, vice president of operations and planning at AU. “The teams of people, contractors, designers, workers, even the community … this has been a community effort to get it to this point,” remarked Ewing.
Representing the community, Matt Miller, the mayor of Ashland, was on hand and presented an official proclamation to the Schars, thanking them for their dedication and commitment to AU. “When you’re in the center of God’s will, you make an impact beyond anything you’ve ever imagined, one that will ripple well beyond your lifetime. (The Schars) have impacted not only this school, but other institutions and other entities and communities and other individuals all across this great country. Remember they are able to do so because they found their purpose, God blessed them tremendously, and now He’s using them to change the course of history,” said Miller.
Previous major gifts from the Schars have gone to the College of Education and to the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, as well as for athletic facilities and scholarships. Combined with these current projects, which Campo termed “extraordinary,” they have given approximately $40 million to Ashland University since 1984.
“They (aren’t) just giving to Ashland to give to Ashland. They (are) giving to Ashland for students, for transformation, to make a change,” said Campo. “We think that this ‘little facelift’ is one that’s truly for the generations.”