Prothro Center Opens
New building consolidates student services that were previously in five different facilities
For many offices on campus, Spring Break is going to be a week of packing and unpacking boxes.
That’s because they will be moving into the new Charles and Elizabeth Prothro Center for Lifelong Learning.
The three-story, 40,203 square-foot building will allow Southwestern to consolidate many student services in one location, including the Registrar, Counseling and Health Services, Career Services, the Center for Academic Success, the Office of Intercultural Studies and the Office of Civic Engagement. It also will serve as the home for Southwestern’s Paideia® Program, a three-year program that helps students make connections between what they are learning in the classroom and the world around them.
The $11 million building also will be the new home of Georgetown’s Senior University, which offers non-credit courses for residents 50 and older.
Jerry Brody, vice president for student life, said he expects the building will become a “second campus center” and a new hub for student life on campus.
He said it also will facilitate communication among departments that serve students. For example, he cited the benefits of the Center for Academic Success being closer to Career Services and the Office of Intercultural Studies being closer to the Cross-Cultural Center.
“The Prothro Center will enable us to blend student services and academic services in a way that supports students,” Brody said.
The offices that are moving into the Prothro Center were previously located in five different facilities across campus.
The first floor of the building will house Career Services, the Grogan Lord Center for Academic Success, Senior University, and the Jerry Farrington Center for Student Services, which includes the Registrar’s Office and the Pirate Card Office.
The second floor of the building will house the Priddy Charitable Trust Center for Paideia, the Office of Civic Engagement, the Alkek Center for Counseling and Health Services, the M.D. Anderson Center for Intercultural Studies, the Cross-cultural Center, Academic Computing, and Technology Support Services. The second floor also has a lounge with a large flat-screen television and a balcony with outdoor seating for student gatherings and programs.
“It is wonderful to have a permanent home for our Paideia program and a place that supports our focus on experiential learning,” said Provost Jim Hunt.
David Gaines, an English professor who serves as director of the Paideia program, said that program will be much more vibrant as result of being in the new Prothro Center.
“Not only will current Paideia scholars and professors have a centralized location to meet and pursue their collective scholarly, civic and intercultural passions, they − and the rest of the campus and outside community − will have a space in which monthly events on a wide variety of topics will be hosted by various Paideia groups. In short, I hope that the Paideia Program will make the Prothro Center the new ‘big tent’ under which exciting chautauquas take place,” Gaines said.
The third floor of the building will house Administrative Computing Services and a computer training room.
Each floor also has at least one classroom and one seminar room. The first floor classroom opens to the outside so that it can be used when the rest of the building is closed. The building will be the first on campus other than the residence halls to have a card-based access control system.
Bob Mathis, associate vice president for facilities and campus services, said the building was designed to be flexible. “A lot of planning and thought went into this building to make it a dynamic space, especially for students,” he said. Mathis said the building was designed to eliminate silos by making areas such as corridors and reception areas community spaces.
The Prothro Center is the second “green” building on the Southwestern campus and Southwestern will be seeking LEED certification for it from the U.S. Green Building Council. Green features of the building include large, high-efficiency windows in all the rooms, an atrium with natural light that comes through the roof, recycled carpet and low-VOC paints, and an energy-efficient “envelope” under the building’s Texas limestone exterior.
The building’s unique architectural features include fossilized limestone accents and copper trim on the two turrets that house the stairwells.
The building was funded entirely by donations from alumni and friends of Southwestern.
Major donors included the Perkins-Prothro Foundation, the Robert & Ruby Priddy Charitable Trust, the Grogan Lord Foundation, the J. E. & L. E. Mabee Foundation, the Hoblitzelle Foundation, the Albert & Margaret Alkek Foundation, the M. D. Anderson Foundation, the Fondren Foundation, the William & Catherine Bryce Memorial Fund, the Amon G. Carter Foundation, the Hillcrest Foundation, the Kendeda Fund, Robin Bruno, Thomas and Dorothy Shockley, and several anonymous donors.
The building was designed by longtime Southwestern architects Group Two Architecture of Austin. The contractor was Skyline Commercial Inc.
The Prothro Center is located on the Academic Mall next to the F.W. Olin Building. It was dedicated March 11 at ceremony that was attended by many of the donors who made the building possible. Among them was Joe Prothro, a son of Charles and Elizabeth Prothro. Prothro said his father was lifelong friends with Robert Priddy, a fellow Wichita Falls resident who gave Southwestern a transformational gift to start its Paideia Program.
“When we come to campus in the future, we will see a wonderful tribute to my parents and Robert Priddy,” Prothro said.