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Donors Contribute $9.5 million to Sports and Fitness Facilities Project

RAC donorsOne played sports on Doane's Crete campus in the 1950s and became a Doane Tiger for life. One spent just two years at Doane before completing degrees at other institutions, but maintained a connection to the campus.
 
On Thursday, Oct. 1, Doane College paid tribute to the two Omaha-area men and their families who contributed a combined $9.5 million to the $13 million performance gymnasium and fitness facility now taking shape one cement block at a time on the Crete campus.
 
The 12:30 p.m. ceremony also unveiled the official name of the recreation and athletic center: the George and Sally Haddix Recreation and Athletic Center.

Both men, longtime members of Doane's Board of Trustees, spoke at the 30-minute ceremony.

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 building's Hall of Fame room will bear the name of Richard and Wanda Gibson, honoring their recent $2.5 million contribution to the project.
 
Their donations complete the first phase of fundraising for Doane's Sports and Fitness Facilities project, beginning with the Recreation and Athletic Center, which is expected to open in August of 2010. The two-level, 63,535 square-foot building 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.
 
Fundraising continues as Doane hopes to complete the project by constructing the $4.5 million expansion and renovation of the existing Fuhrer Field house, which will remain the home of Doane's track and field program.
 
About the Donors:

"In an understated but powerful way, George and Sally Haddix have consistently shown a commitment to those organizations that focus on advancing the lives and well-being of others. And, their leadership inspires others. Doane College is honored to have a deep connection with the Haddix Family..." Doane President Jonathan Brand
 
When a group of George Haddix's friends enrolled at Doane, he came to Crete as well and spent 1957 and 1958 on campus. They were not his most industrious years, he says dryly.  But they did lead him to consider a career using math (which would turn out to be the computer science/ technology industry's gain.) And even while undecided, he was moving forward, eventually earning not only a bachelor's degree, but masters and doctoral degrees as well.

"Moving forward" became the theme of both his career and philanthropy. "I think (the recreation and athletic center) is an appropriate expansion for Doane. For me, it's an investment in an organization I believe is going forward strongly."

Sports and fitness facilities are crucial to a liberal arts campus like Doane, he said. "You have to pay attention not only to people's minds, but physical health; instill the idea of staying well." He said he was struck by the outstanding design of the project, both how it suits the existing landscape and the modern, yet stately look of the building.

Haddix, of Ralston, has served on Doane's Board of Trustees for 10 years. He was 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 has served on the faculties of Iowa State University, Creighton University and the University of Nebraska, Omaha, with the highest rank of associate professor of computer science and mathematics. He and his wife, Sally, who passed away in 2008, established the GFH and SAH Foundation, whose generosity has for years benefited Doane, Nebraska and beyond.
 
"Just in the way he talks about his college, you know that Richard Gibson has a genuine love for Doane - what it is and what it can be. It is really a part of who he is - his experiences at Doane were that important to him.  Within this context, he appreciates and supports the crucial role that athletics plays in the student experience at the small, residential liberal arts colleges." Doane President Jonathan Brand
 
In 1953, Richard "Rick" Gibson's choice of college came down to Peru State and Doane. When Doane named former Nebraska starting quarterback Fran Nagle its football coach, Gibson became a Tiger. Soon, he was a team leader in offense, and also ran track. Simon Field and Butler Gym became his second home.

It's time to give other generations of Doane student-athletes new athletic homes, Gibson said. "In my opinion, the Recreation and Athletic Center is the next step in attracting and graduating quality students from Doane College.  Coupled with our excellent academic staff and educational resources, this facility provides our current and potential students the opportunity to expand their knowledge, energy and abilities to greater involve the challenge of athletics as well."

"I have a strong feeling that Doane offers a complete student life. About 50 percent of students participate in some type of intercollegiate athletics and it's another opportunity to develop well-rounded individuals who have learned to live the game of life through athletics and school."

Sports holds value for life, he said, demonstrated in his own life transitioning from college athlete, to coach to dedicated fan of his grandchildren's educational and  athletic careers.

Rick and Wanda Gibson of Council Bluffs continued years of generous support of Doane with their gift of $2.5 million to the Sports and Fitness Facilities Project.

A native of Weeping Water, Gibson earned a bachelor of arts degree in social studies at Doane in 1957 and continued graduate studies at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. In the next decades, his career evolved from teacher and crop hail adjuster to founder and past chairman  of Agro National Inc. in Council Bluffs, Iowa. He also is chairman of Agro International, Inc., an international consulting company specializing in agricultural risk planning, product development and policy origination for new and developing countries.

His many community roles through the year include the Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce and the director of the Pottawattamie Conservation Foundation, in addition to his 11 years with Doane's Board of Trustees.