Rendering of facility. (Submitted)
WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. – Williams Baptist University has announced that it has been selected for a $4 million gift from the Mabee Foundation, marking the largest donation ever bestowed upon the university. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the J. E. and L. E. Mabee Foundation, and as part of the anniversary celebration and in honor of its founders, John and Lottie Mabee, the Mabee Foundation Board of Trustees chose WBU to receive a special grant of $4 million. This gift will secure the naming rights to construct a wellness center on the Williams campus. The building will be designated as the J. E. and L. E. Mabee Foundation Wellness Center.
WBU President Dr. Stan Norman said the J. E. and L. E. Mabee Foundation Wellness Center will provide a state-of-the-art facility for physical fitness, mental health, and community engagement. Additionally, the center will serve as a catalyst for enrollment growth and student retention. Current plans for the facility include two basketball courts, top-of-the-line weight and aerobic exercise equipment, exercise rooms, locker rooms, a video gaming room, a community/gathering area as well as a large, screened porch.
“We are extremely grateful to the Mabee Foundation Board of Trustees for this remarkable gift. When completed, the facility will profoundly impact the lives of our students at Williams and significantly enhance the infrastructure of our campus community,” said Norman. “J. E. and L. E. Mabee Foundation Wellness Center will provide our students a first-class facility to support their physical and mental well-being as well as fostering a healthier, more vibrant campus community. We extend our heartfelt thanks to the Mabee Foundation Board of Trustees for their unwavering support and partnership in our mission to provide an exceptional Christ-centered education and leadership formation for our students.”
Since its establishment in 1948 by John and Lottie Mabee, the Mabee Foundation has become a prominent philanthropic force, focusing on supporting ‘brick and mortar’ projects across Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas. With a current value surpassing $1 billion, the Mabee Foundation has awarded grants totaling over $1.5 billion. The visionary approach and remarkable generosity of John and Lottie Mabee serve as an enduring inspiration, positively impacting numerous individuals and organizations while leaving a lasting legacy in the communities they support.
The Mabee Foundation has supported a number of construction projects at WBU over the past several decades, including the Southerland-Mabee Center, Mabee Student Center, Mabee-Gwinup Cafeteria, Manley Chapel, Startup Chapel, as well as Cash and Butler Halls.
The construction of the J. E. and L. E. Mabee Foundation Wellness Center aligns with the mission of WBU and the stated aims of the Williams Way. The Williams Way challenges students to exemplify Christ-centered purpose, unwavering tenacity, courageous faith, selfless sacrifice and work as mission.
“As a transformative facility, the J. E. and L. E. Mabee Foundation Wellness Center embodies our commitment to nurturing exceptional leaders who engage local and global cultures through a Christ-centered worldview,” said Dr. Norman. “By providing a place for physical fitness, mental health, and community engagement, the center will help us equip our students to embody the Williams Way traits.”
The estimated cost of the project is $8 million, and WBU will explore additional fundraising opportunities to ensure the completion of the facility. Details regarding future fundraising efforts will be announced at a later date.
Williams Baptist University is a private, Christian university in Walnut Ridge.