Fine and Performing Arts Gift Announcement
Dr. Steven A. Scott, President, Pittsburg State University
March 8, 2012
The idea of constructing a Fine and Performing Arts Center is not a new one for Pittsburg State University. Ever since Carney Hall, which held our previous performance hall, began to deteriorate, this university has been working towards the construction of a new home for the fine and performing arts.
The first cost estimates for a new center date back to 1971.
To some, it probably seemed as if this project would never take flight. But there were some who never stopped believing -- supporters who understood the importance of a Fine and Performing Arts Center both to our campus and to our community.
PSU President Tom Bryant was one of the first to initiate discussions about this project with a number of
groups, including the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation. There was PSU alumnus and close friend Guy Sutherland. who helped us move those discussions forward and of course Gene and Rita Bicknell, who have helped lead this project as co-chairs of the Campaign for the Fine and Performing Arts Center. Their leadership and vision have been instrumental in driving this project forward and helped lead us to today’s announcement.
Five years ago, an anonymous donor brought new life to the fine and performing arts center with a lead gift of $10 million. It was the largest, single gift our university had ever received. Since that time, hundreds of donors, many in this room, have moved us closer to our ultimate goal
Today, we take another step towards transforming these plans from dreams into reality.
I’m extremely pleased to announce that the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, through the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, is providing a $5 million gift for this project, in honor of Pittsburg State University graduate, and former Walmart president and CEO… H. Lee Scott.
As president of Pittsburg State University, I’m very proud of Lee’s accomplishments, and as his brother, I’m even more proud of him. In both roles, I’m especially appreciative that he directed this gift to Pittsburg State University.
Lee was unable to join us for today’s announcement, but he did send a few brief remarks:
“Today’s announcement by the Walton family of a five million dollar contribution in support
of the creation of the performing arts center at Pittsburg State is exciting, and, for my wife,
Linda, and me, it is also fulfilling.
Our appreciation of Pittsburg State and role the university plays in the lives of students dates
back to 1969 when we were students there. At that time, I was going to school during the day
and working at McNally Manufacturing at night.
We could never have foreseen the wonderful opportunities that life would bring us. In fact, our
aspirations were modest. What we wanted most was a functioning heater in our mobile home.
In 1979, Linda and I made the move to Northwest Arkansas, so that I could start a new career
at Walmart Stores, incorporated. Neither of us could have imagined the impact this move
would have on our lives.
The basic beliefs of Walmart, as created and expressed by Sam Walton, were consistent with
our personal beliefs and those taught at Pittsburg State. Today’s announcement is a reflection
of the Walton family’s commitment to those values and to the communities the company serves.
When people ask me about my time at Walmart and my relationship with the Walton family,
I always respond: “Being at Walmart for 31 years not only made me a better leader, it made
me a better person.” With the help of the Walton family and the completion of the Fine and
Performing Arts Center, Pittsburg State will become a more complete university.
Linda and I would like to thank the Walton family for this wonderful gift. Their generosity will
enhance the college experience for thousands of students over many years.
Lastly, let me say how proud I am to be a graduate of Pittsburg State University.”
With this gift, Pittsburg State University has now raised nearly $20 million towards the construction of a new Fine and Performing Arts Center. It’s true that we still have much work to do, but it’s important to celebrate the milestones in our journey.
There has never been a better time to join us in this journey. Those donors who have believed in this project from the beginning have helped make the path forward clear.
Our momentum is strong. Our vision is clear. And we believe in the future of the Fine and Performing Arts Center at Pittsburg State University and what it will mean to the entire region.
I want to again thank the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation for their belief in this project, and the many donors who have made today’s announcement possible.