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Fondren Foundation Pledges $1 Million for New Science Center

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    The Fondren Foundation of Houston contributed to the construction of the original portion of the Fondren-Jones Science Building (left) as well as the new wing that opened in 1999 (right).

Houston-based foundation has been a long-time supporter of the sciences at Southwestern

The Fondren Foundation of Houston has pledged $1 million toward the expansion and renovation of the Fondren-Jones Science Building at Southwestern University. 

The gift is the second major contribution Southwestern has received toward the $24 million needed to completely redesign the current science facility. In May, the university received a gift of $3 million from The Cullen Foundation of Houston.

The new gift from the Fondren Foundation is the latest chapter in a long relationship between the Fondren family and the sciences at Southwestern. The story began in the early 1950s when Mrs. W.W. Fondren gave the lead gift for the Fondren Science Center, which opened in 1954. Additional gifts from Houston Endowment, Inc. supported modernization of the building in 1981, and the facility was renamed the Fondren-Jones Science Hall. The Fondren Foundation was an important supporter when a new wing with laboratories, offices and classrooms was added in 1999. 

“The Fondren Foundation’s newest grant to Southwestern provides generous funds that demonstrate their understanding of the important role Southwestern plays in preparing undergraduates for future endeavors in medicine and the sciences,” said President Jake B. Schrum. “The new Science Center will play an important role in preparing our students, no matter what their major, to become effective, contributing global citizens in the 21st century.”

The planned renovation will reconfigure the original 1954 structure, making it easier to get from one part of the building to another. A new entrance on the north side of the building and a pedestrian promenade will connect the science building to the Academic Mall. The second, third and fourth floors above the new lobby will provide space for six new classrooms with the latest technology. The roof of the existing science building will be raised to allow the addition of windows on the fourth floor and a central skylight that flows down through all the floors will be added. A portion of the fourth floor will have a “green roof” accessible to the public.

Raising funds for the construction of the new science building is the highest priority in Southwestern’s ongoing Thinking Ahead fundraising campaign. Total commitments to the campaign now exceed $117 million.