Ribbon Cutting Kicks Off Haddix Center Dedication

About seven years ago, Doane Board of Trustee member George Haddix talked with Doane administration and fellow board members about the construction needs on campus.

At the time, he recalled, a new art and education building was called a "must," and a new recreation and athletic center "a difference maker."

The art and education building opened in 2007.

And on Sept. 30, 2010, Doane began the dedication of its "difference maker" - the $13 million George and Sally Haddix Recreation and Athletic Center.

It's a long time coming, "so let's get to using it," Haddix said during the on-site ribbon-cutting ceremony for the building that bears his family's name.

The event kicked off two days of dedication ceremonies for the new center. The largest construction project in Doane's history, it spans two-levels and 63,535 square-feet and houses a performance gymnasium for volleyball and basketball competition, a fitness center for both Doane and area communities, several classrooms, labs and office space.

It is expected to open and host its first competitions in October and November.

The building is fitting on a campus that had a sports program within five years of opening in 1872, Doane President Jonathan Brand said, programs that became a fundamental piece of a broad education.

"Alumni speak about the invaluable lessons coaches imparted during their time at Doane."

Brand introduced another family who made the building possible, Rick and Wanda Gibson, who are recognized through the naming of the Rick and Wanda Gibson Hall of Fame Room.

Rick Gibson told the audience his entrepreneurial spirit began at Doane and helped put him in a position to make contributions to the new center. He spoke of the importance of giving to future generations of students and the value of scholarships.

"$1,500 was the cost (when I attended Doane) and I can tell you I didn't have that," said Gibson, who played football and ran track on the Crete campus in the 1950s.

The new center will impact future students and members of the Doane and Crete communities for years to come, according to Greg Heier, Doane Athletic Director. It already has made an impact, he said, as the new enrollment record of 329 students in the first-year class stands as proof.

When one talks about investing in a building such as the new recreation and athletic center, "I contend you are not really investing in a building, you are investing in people," Heier said. "...When you invest in people, you encourage them, you tell them ‘I believe in you' and ultimately you empower them."

The dedication celebration continued Friday at Embassy Suites in Omaha as part of the annual Doane College Society Gala, which this year featured keynote speaker Frank Deford, an award-winning sports journalist, author and NPR commentator.

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