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Ceremony Honors Donors; Unveils RAC’s Official Name

Ceremony Honors Donors; Unveils RAC’s Official Name

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RAC group pictureOn a Friday night about three years ago, Doane President Jonathan Brand returned home from a business trip and drove past Fuhrer Field House at midnight. All the lights were on, so he stopped in.

The Doane baseball team was practicing; sometimes 10:30 p.m. to midnight was their time slot, Brand told the audience at a naming ceremony Thursday for the sports facility currently under construction. That's the reality on a campus where more than 50 percent of students participate in intercollegiate athletics and they all share Fuhrer Field House.

If ever one could see the need for a new sports facility at Doane, it was that evening, he said, and to be able to build it in the current economy is doubly gratifying.

"In a period when other colleges are shrinking, delaying projects...we get to surge ahead with momentum and excitement," Brand said, thanking two large donors of the project and unveiling a sign with the new facility's name: The George and Sally Haddix Recreation and Athletic Center.

Doane is deeply indebted to the Haddix family and the support that made this project possible at this time, Brand said.  He also thanked Richard and Wanda Gibson of Council Bluffs for their support and donation to the new building, whose Hall-of-Fame room will bear the Gibson name.

George and the late Sally Haddix of Ralston contributed a $5 million challenge gift to jumpstart fundraising for the project in 2005-06 and an additional $2 million to the project in August.

The Gibsons recently contributed $2.5 million to the project.

The facility expected to open in August of 2010 will span two-levels and 63,535 square-feet. It will include a performance gymnasium for volleyball and basketball competition that seats 1,200, a fitness center for both Doane and area communities, several classrooms, and office space.

A lot of commitments from a lot of people brought Doane from the talking stage six years ago to the project's current stage - the doing stage, Haddix said when he addressed the audience on the Crete campus where he spent two years of his educational career.

"In one year, we'll be out of the doing stage and into the using stage, which is where we want to be," Haddix said.

Rick Gibson played football and track at Doane in the 1950s, which is one of the reasons he was "a supporter of (building) this from the beginning." He said he relates much of his success in athletics to business. Lessons learned on the field translated to learning to work together and build successful companies.

"The job is not done. We are going to expand this Field House and have a regulation track," he said, referring to the remaining goal of Doane's Sports Facility Project - a $4.5 million expansion and renovation of the existing Fuhrer Field house, which will remain the home of Doane's track and field program.

Several representatives of Doane Athletics spoke at the 30-minute ceremony. Men's Basketball Coach Ian Brown said the primary role of any coach is to teach and with the introduction of the RAC, Doane will have "the finest facility to teach," impressing potential students from all backgrounds.

Even before its physical presence, the new building is one reason Doane welcomed record enrollments of 313 new students and 40 transfer students this fall, said Greg Heier, athletic director. "Just the buzz, the anticipation of this facility played a role in that," he said.

About the donors:
Both George Haddix and Rick Gibson are longtime members of Doane's Board of Trustees. Haddix is a cofounder of CSG Systems International, Inc., CEO of U.S. West Network Systems Inc., of Bellview WA, CEO and Chairman of Applied Communications Inc., of Omaha, Chairman of Surface Systems Inc., of St. Louis., and until August 17, 2009, CEO and Chairman of PKWARE Inc., of Milwaukee, WI He and his wife, Sally, who passed away in 2008, established the GFH and SAH Foundation.
 
Gibson earned a bachelor of arts degree in social studies at Doane in 1957. He is past chairman of Agro National Inc. in Council Bluffs, Iowa and chairman of Agro International, Inc., an international consulting company specializing in agricultural risk planning, product development and policy origination for new and developing countries.

 

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