FULTON - More than 200 students filled the gym at Westminster College Tuesday to hear an announcement promising to "dramatically change the student experience at Westminster."
The president of the college, Fletcher Lamkin, introduced alumnus Kent Mueller and his wife, Judy, who then announced their donation of $3 million dollars, the largest improvement project in over a decade.
"Westminster gave me the knowledge, tools, and drive to enthusiastically pursue everything I needed to be successful in my personal and professional life, and I want to give back so future generations of our students can receive the same excellent education I received here," Mueller said during his announcement.
The money will go towards building a new stadium at Westminster College.
“It’s bigger than just football, it’s also a statement for our students that this is a fun place for them to go to a game instead of a ratty set of bleachers,” Lamkin said. “I think Kent realized that this would be a very good moment to express his support for a great college that he thinks will be sustained and flourish in the future.”
Phase I of the project will include turf, a new scoreboard and lights.
Phase II includes the stadium structure itself, including bleachers, press box, concessions and rest rooms.
Phase III will fund other athletic facility enhancements which have not been specified at this time.
Lamkin thinks the donation sets an example, because "it shows this college is here to stay" and "will stimulate others to open their checkbook, if you will and give to our college."
The students are also excited, but for several different reasons.
Maggie Morris, a cheerleader at Westminster, said she thinks the field will boost student morale.
“Since I’ve been here, it doesn’t seem like there’s a whole lot of excitement from the student body as a whole, so this has made me a lot more excited for the fact that I think it’s going to get more people involved and their are going to be more people willing to show up to the event and get involved and support our team,” Morris said.
Softball player Emily Luicett said she's looking forward to the new turf.
“I think it’s going to be huge for the school. Not only for like football and the other sports you can play there, but even like for us when it’s raining and we need somewhere to practice too, that’s huge,” Luicett said.
Soccer player Patrick Wisnewski agrees.
“Playing soccer on an uneven surface isn’t very good, but with the turf we’ll know what we have every game and we’ll be better and play faster and all that,” Wisnewski.
Football player, Trent White said he thinks it will attract more athletes.
“One of the biggest things is getting recruits. Because with our field now we don’t have the nicest facilities in our conference so if someone was to come here and do a tour of our school and then go to a different school and see their nice facilities and nice stadium they might choose a different school,” White said.
Construction will begin in the summer,after spring sports end. Phase I will be completed in time for the 2018 fall Blue Jay football season.