ISU Raises Money for New Academic Center

Iowa State University students will soon have a new facility dedicated to improving academic achievement and increasing student retention and graduation rates. Private contributions were recently secured to build what university officials are tentatively calling the Hixson-Lied Student Success Center on the ISU campus. The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, was expected to consider the formal naming request at its meeting pn Thursday.

The new $10 million center - located on Beach Road near a number of residence halls - will provide services directed to any Iowa State student in need of academic counseling, tutoring, and testing.  The facility will also include a resource library, computer labs, individual and group study rooms, and meeting and classroom spaces.

The center will also be home to the Christina Hixson Opportunity Awards program, and the new Rod and Connie French Athletic Academic Center.  The facility will be built in the location now occupied by the Wallace Road Office Building, which is being demolished. The center is expected to be completed March 2007. Lied Foundation Trust of Las Vegas, Nevada, committed $5 million to the project. Christina M. Hixson is the trustee of the foundation trust, and has given
generously to support ISU students in the past.

"We are very grateful to Ms. Hixson for her continuing generous support of our students--nearly 400 students receive Hixson Scholarships annually, and now the entire student body will benefit from this center," said Gregory Geoffroy, Iowa State president.  "This facility will help us meet Ms. Hixson's challenge to give more students the opportunity to succeed. It is very fitting that her name and Mr. Lied's name be connected with it."

The new Rod and Connie French Athletic Academic Center, located on the second floor of the facility, will serve student athletes in need of customized academic and personal development programs, study groups, tutoring and other services to help student athletes complete their degrees. Rod and Connie French have committed $1.5 million in support of the project. 

"Rod and Connie's generous gift, along with the gifts of many other longtime benefactors of Cyclone athletics, will insure that our student athletes receive the very best academic support," said Bruce Van De Velde, director of athletics. "Student athletes face challenging schedules and there has long been a great need for a place in which they can get the additional academic support they need. The Rod and Connie French Athletic Academic Center will undoubtedly help boost graduation rates and serve as a new recruiting tool for our athletic department."

The new facility will also be used to promote Iowa State to prospective students and their parents.

"Prospective students and their families frequently ask about the academic support available to ISU students," said Marc Harding, director of admissions at Iowa State.  "Whether the question is about resources for getting help with a particularly demanding schedule, success in a large lecture course, or a myriad of other academic concerns, students and parents want to know what ISU offers. The new Hixson-Lied Student Success Center not only illustrates our commitment to student academic success, it will greatly enhance our ability to recruit and retain students to Iowa State."

Christina M. Hixson, a Clarinda, Iowa native, worked with auto dealer and real estate developer Ernst F. Lied for more that 30 years. After Lied's death in 1980, Hixson became the sole trustee of the Lied Foundation Trust. The trust has made contributions to projects around the country. Hixson's special fondness for young people inspired her to establish a scholarship fund at ISU for students academically capable of college work but with little hope of attending without financial assistance. The Hixson Opportunity Awards support up to 400 ISU undergraduate students each year.

"Access to space where our students can interact and support one another has generated a lot of excitement throughout the Hixson program," said Debra Sanborn, director of the Hixson program.  "Our students' success has come from building community. This new facility will greatly enhance our efforts in that area."

Rod French is President and CEO of R.L. French Corporation, which owns Kenworth truck dealerships in Des Moines, Omaha, Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities. He is a lifetime member of the Fiesta Bowl committee, served as an honorary chairman of the Variety of Iowa telethon and was one of the original owners of the Iowa Barnstormers Arena Football League team.

Connie is a former senior vice president of Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, has served on the boards of directors of Children and Families of Iowa, ChildServe and Mercy College Health and Sciences. Rod and Connie French have been long-time supporters of Cyclone athletics and the Cyclone hockey program.

"This new center is the perfect example of how private support can play a transformational role in the life of Iowa State University," said ISU Foundation President Dan Saftig. "Without the generosity of these donors, this vital student resource may never have been realized. ISU will be a much better
university because of this project."

All of the private commitments supporting the student success center project were made through the ISU Foundation - a private, non-profit organization dedicated to securing and managing private gift support for Iowa State University.

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