Williamson President's Report 2021 Edition - Page 3

Letter From The President

Greetings and best wishes from Williamson ,
Looking back on the 2020-2021 school year leaves us with a great sense of accomplishment and pride . We were not content with just surviving the pandemic , but were determined to thrive in spite of the restrictions . We not only dealt with a pandemic , but also accomplished many things that move Williamson forward . Although more challenging than any in recent memory , it truly was a great year for Williamson College of the Trades !
While colleges across the country were closing down and sending their students home to learn virtually , we remained open , residential , and in-person all year while managing the restrictions of a world-wide pandemic . We were forced to make major changes to the way we normally do things , including canceling varsity sports , holding special events virtually , limiting campus visits , maintaining social distance , wearing masks , and having regular COVID-19 screenings and testing . It was a very difficult year for everyone here , but I am very proud of our students , faculty , and staff for the extra effort they put in to make this work .
The safety of our students , faculty , and staff is always priority number one , so we worked hard to develop a plan that provided the safety measures necessary to remain open . We knew how important it was for our students to be on campus , in the shops and classrooms with their instructors and fellow students . Those interactions that take place on campus are what truly define Williamson . Our students cannot learn their trade while sitting in front of a computer at home . The immersive environment that our residential campus provides is the key that helps our students to develop character and become “ Williamson Men .” After experiencing the previous year where we saw our students learning remotely from March until the end of the school year , I can guarantee that everyone was excited to be back on campus last year , in spite of the restrictions and inconveniences we had to manage .
This year saw many important advancements , many of which were long-held dreams finally coming to fruition . This was all made possible by the successful completion of our 5-year Building for the Future comprehensive capital campaign . The campaign began with the very ambitious goal of raising $ 60 million and ended this spring with over $ 82 million raised . An amazing feat !
Exceeding the fund-raising goals of this campaign provided the necessary resources to improve every aspect of Williamson . Also , it sets the conditions that will allow us to increase enrollment and expand the mission of Williamson in the future .
The many additions to the campus made possible by the campaign include the construction of the first new dormitory in decades , Watson Dormitory ; the renovation of the James R . Clemens 3W4 Dormitory ( formerly Stell Dormitory ) and Eyre Dormitory ; expansion of the dining room ; construction of the Betty and Russell 5W0 Harvey Athletic Field ; increases to the endowment ; and upgrades to the Lee Rowan School of Power Plant Technology .
Along with these large-scale capital initiatives , other significant updates to the technology and shop infrastructure of the campus made possible by this campaign include new windows in Rowan Hall and four shop buildings , technology upgrades to numerous classrooms , and new technology equipment for the power plant and machine shop , as well as significant investments in deferred maintenance .
Most recently , the successful campaign is allowing for the construction of a new student center , the Joseph L . and Marion M . Wesley Student Center . A groundbreaking ceremony was held for this great new addition to the campus in June . When completed in 2023 , it will be a focal point of student activities in the center of the Williamson campus . We dreamed for many years of adding a student center to the campus but , lacking the funds , the plan remained a dream . That all changed when we met Joseph Wesley . Joe visited the campus , saw the good work we are doing here and the values we hold dear , and decided he wanted to be a part of it . He and his wife , through the Joseph and Marion Wesley Family Foundation , made a very generous gift of over $ 21 million to provide for the construction of a first-class facility . It will provide our students with a place for intramural sports , exercising , and bonding with classmates . It will have three full basketball courts , an elevated track , a large weight room , a cardio room , an eSports room , a lounge , a game room , and meeting rooms for clubs and activities . Keeping our students on campus is something we believe is beneficial to their development , so providing them with the facilities they need to exercise , recreate , and socialize with one another was a critical need . We were excited to see the first shovel go into the ground and are so grateful to Joe and Marion Wesley for making this investment in our students !
We held a groundbreaking ceremony in June for a second new dormitory , which is currently under construction . The Judith A . and William B . Strine Dormitory is named in recognition of our longterm trustee and his wife , in appreciation of their $ 2.3 million gift for its construction . Bill is the CEO of Media Real Estate , a successful real estate company in Media , founded by his father , Walter Strine 2W9 , over 65 years ago . Bill and Judy saw the importance of increasing student enrollment and , acknowledging that their family is the direct beneficiary of a Williamson graduate , wanted to do their part in giving back to the school that has benefited them . The Strine Dorm is critical to allowing the college to start increasing enrollment as early as next year .
We recently completed the two-year renovation of Stell Dormitory