By Cameron Stuart | Reporter
The Sunderland Foundation of Overland Park, Kan., donated $15 million toward Baylor’s restoration of Tidwell Bible Building, President Linda Livingstone and a Sunderland board member announced at a press conference on Thursday.
The $15 million gift from the Sunderland Foundation leaves the university just $5 million short of its $20 million goal for the renovation, according to a press release. The renovations will include more flexible classrooms, a more flexible infrastructure enabling technology-enhanced learning and more consolidated administrative and faculty offices. The new building will retain the Tidwell name but will now house the Sunderland Academic Center.
Sunderland Foundation board member and 2016 Baylor graduate Michelle Buckner was on hand to represent the foundation. Buckner, whose two sisters also went to Baylor, is excited to help with the renovation.
“I love Baylor. My sisters and I were so blessed by our time here, and we are thankful that our family has the ability to give back to the university in this way,” Buckner said. “I think generations of Baylor students to come will be blessed by this renovation.”
Livingstone saw the project as preserving history and cited Tidwell’s renovation as one of her pillars for Baylor’s “Give Light” philanthropic campaign.
“Tidwell Bible Building remains a cultural touchstone at Baylor — few students pass through this campus without venturing inside for a core class in history or religion,” Livingstone said. “This significant gift from the Sunderland Foundation and other generous support will allow Baylor to restore Tidwell to its original beauty – carefully preserving its architectural significance while revitalizing its ability to serve as a place of excellence in Christian higher education.”
The building houses both the history and religion departments and was dedicated in 1954 with 57,000 square feet. Since both of Baylor’s required religion courses are taught here, nearly every graduate has had a class in the building.
Baylor’s vice president of advancement David Rosselli explained just how important the building’s renovation will be to the university as a whole.
“A lot of our alums have had some sort of experience in this building and they have a strong affinity for it – it’s iconic,” Rosselli said. “The very first pillar President Livingstone mentioned on the first day of her tenure was keeping Baylor unambiguously Christian, and this is obviously a stake in the ground that one of our top priorities is to pour resources into our bible building.”
The Sunderland Foundation has also helped Baylor by replacing the organ in Waco Hall in 2010, as well as donating to campaigns to support the School of Engineering and Computer Science and the creation of the Louise Herrington School of Nursing in Dallas.
Rosselli said he expects the university to announce another donation from a similar foundation of $2 million in the coming days, leaving just $3 million for the university to raise to hit their goal for Tidwell’s renovation.