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VIA News: Ground broken for Onstead Center

FROM LEFT: April (Bullock ’89) Anthony, Dr. Robert Rhodes, Kay Onstead, ACU president Dr. Phil Schubert (’91), Larry Gill of the Dodge Jones Foundation, Students’ Association executive president Rodney Johnson (’15) and ACU board chair Dr. Barry Packer (’78) were in the first wave of special guests to participate in the ceremonial event just north of the eventual construction site.
Abilene Christian University celebrated groundbreaking Monday for the new Robert R. and Kay Onstead Science Center, ceremonially beginning the third of five projects in the university’s historic Vision in Action initiative.
The event, which took place outside Walling Lecture Hall on the campus’ south quad, honored the generosity of Kay Onstead, whose $10 million gift for a facility that would match the reputation of ACU’s world-class science programs was the first of three cornerstone contributions that launched Vision in Action.
Kay Onstead
Kay Onstead
“I feel like I got way too much credit today,” Onstead said at a lunch honoring her immediately after the groundbreaking. “It’s a little bit embarrassing.”
Vision in Action is the $75 million initiative to build three new science facilities and two athletics stadiums. Work on the Engineering and Physics Laboratories at Bennett Gymnasium is scheduled to be complete by January, while a new stadium for the soccer and track and field programs is scheduled to open in April. Fundraising continues on the Halbert-Walling Research Center and football’s on-campus Wildcat Stadium.
Onstead’s gift in December 2012 created the momentum that made possible other significant gifts, including the largest in ACU history, said Dr. Phil Schubert (’91), university president.
That gift, a $30 million contribution from April (Bullock ’89) and Mark Anthony (’86), included $5 million for the Onstead Science Center. The Anthonys, lifelong friends of the Onsteads, were also on hand for the groundbreaking.
“I’m just so grateful this is happening,” said Onstead, whose husband, Robert, was founder of Randall’s Food Markets and a member of ACU’s Board of Trustees for decades before his death in 2004. “I don’t want to take any credit. God has given Bob and me much. I’m just so grateful.”
Charles Onstead
Charlie Onstead
The ceremony, held under a warm sun and clear skies, featured Schubert and provost Dr. Robert Rhodes, as well as words of thanks from Maxwell Moore, a senior biochemistry major from Abilene, speaking on behalf of ACU’s science students, and a response from Onstead’s son, current ACU trustee Charlie Onstead.
Moore praised the science faculty for their love and support of students.
“The donation that made this building possible is another form of investment in ACU’s science students,” he continued. “I can’t even comprehend the amount of money, but the value is in the fact that it’s an investment in students from people who believe in us and our futures. Gifts like that say that the students participating in the sciences at ACU are valuable.”
Schubert noted that he had interned as an accountant at Randall’s shortly after his graduation from ACU, and that a scholarship provided through an endowment created by the Onsteads helped pay for his tuition.
“There’s a lot of personal sentiment in my feeling today,” he said. “The Onstead family left an indelible mark on my life. … To be sitting here today, in this time and this place, celebrating what I know will be the same type of blessing for generations, decades of students – it’s an amazing moment, one for which I’m truly grateful.”
The Onstead Science Center will feature a transformation of the current Foster Science Building. The first phase – the demolition of Walling Lecture Hall and construction of a new glass-walled lobby to bridge the east and west wings of the building – will begin around Jan. 1; the final phase, renovation of Foster’s interior, will begin after Halbert-Walling is constructed.