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Foundation Capital Campaign

Proud of our past...building our future

Campaign Testimonials


Larry and Rebecca McGee

A vision for the future of education—Larry and Rebecca McGee are supporting the Centralia College Foundation Capital Campaign because they have a vision for the future of education at Centralia College. That vision has the college as one of the educational leaders not only in the state but also throughout the Pacific Northwest. "The potential is almost limitless," said Larry. "I can imagine the classroom of the future when the instructor walks in and the very room itself recognizes him or her. Specific programs are loaded, lectures in 3-D are available, and students are exposed to presentations with resources that are beyond what is in place anywhere today."

The vision is close to reality and is scheduled to be a part of the TransAlta College Commons, the next in the building footprint for Centralia College. The concept has been approved and funding for predesign is expected to come from next year's state Legislature. Construction could be funded during the following biennial legislative session.

"It's amazing. Centralia College is a small college in partnership with Microsoft to put in place what we are now calling the classroom of the future," he said. That classroom of the future is impressive and the emerging technologies, applied to higher education can make the desktop computer obsolete. Microsoft visionaries have demonstrated a planned, interactive learning world where the walls in the classroom and even in the student's home could replace the ubiquitous personal computer.

Scenarios portray the learning experience of interacting with teachers and peers using multimedia-rich collaboration; getting hands-on experience with a research field trip to an active volcano; doing homework in a diner or other location outside the home, and sharing the learning at home with parents or friends using tables or dorm room walls for interactive computer screens. Another example shows medical students viewing a three-dimensional rendering of the human body floating in the center of the classroom. Students would be able to see how organs function and how they interact with other organs, how diseases impact the body, and how medicines can counter diseases. With the technology available, this classroom can be almost anywhere and viewing can take place at any time.

"This is exciting and it's something within our reach," said McGee. "Many students have and will continue to benefit from Centralia College. This capital campaign will do much to make sure that students here have the best resources available."

Phyllis Schwiesow

Phyllis Schwiesow knows Centralia College like few others—She enrolled as a student at her home-town college in 1950 and was part of the class that carried chairs from the third floor of the Centralia High School to Kemp Hall to open the college's first major building and usher in a new age for the college. She also met the man she would marry here and the family went on to put together a construction company that built the college's library, Washington Hall, and now the Science Center. She is a member of the Centralia College Foundation Board of Directors and a supporter of the foundation's capital campaign.

"We need new facilities. Each one is a big help in the process of educating students," she said. Modern structures, with up-to-date technology provide a strong advantage that can make it easier for students to learn. "New buildings also are a source of pride not only for the students but for the community," she said. Phyllis has been involved in this college over many years and believes that it is important for the community to support the college. "I think we see Centralia College as our college, something that belongs to the community and we need to support those things that we consider ours," she said.

Phyllis talked about the need for the Health and Wellness Center (H&WC). "This is something that is available to everyone in the community. Whether it's to watch a basketball or volleyball game or to take part in some fitness activity, this community needs this type of facility." Phyllis said that with the increased awareness of physical fitness, the need for the facilities would continue to increase. "People of all ages are recognizing the value that comes with exercise," she said. Individuals will be able to sign up for fitness classes in the remodeled center beginning with winter quarter 2009.

A big benefit of supporting the H&WC project is that the $1 million raised from the community for that project will bring in another million dollars from the state. Another way of looking at this is that the $1 million raised through the campaign will cover the cost of completing the $5 remodel project. Phyllis also recognizes the importance of the Science Center. Citing the need for educating students, Schwiesow said that America needs quality science, engineering, technology and math students and, "We need to make sure these students can get the education they need right here. This building will help make sure it happens." The $30-million Science Center should be available for spring quarter classes.

Brandy Mauel Fay

Brandy Mauel Fay gives back to Centralia College for quality of education—Brandy Mauel Fay should know about quality. She came through Centralia College, transferred to Washington State University and entered the university's College of Veterinary Medicine, one of the top college's in the nation for that program. Brandy, a 2000 W.F. West High School graduate, is now a veterinarian practicing out of a clinic in Chehalis. She appreciates the quality education she received at Centralia College.

"I was very well prepared when I enrolled at WSU," she said. The academic rigor locally set the stage for her studies at the four-year level and allowed her to step right into the top-notch program. It has one of the best-equipped veterinary teaching hospitals in the world, and Brandy was able to work with that equipment. "There's no doubt that working with quality professors and using the best equipment available makes a difference," she said. And it's something that certainly makes a difference when it comes to care for and treatment of a pet or farm animal. And the need for quality equipment is one reason she has chosen to support the Centralia College Foundation.

"Facilities and equipment do make a big difference," said Brandy. "Having the best available tools to work with means a higher skill level. Centralia College has a world-class faculty and I believe it's important for them to have the best equipment possible. Students benefit and we all benefit." She said that the facilities are factors in recruiting top faculty and then attracting top students. Supporting the foundation's campaign is more than giving to the community, it's giving to the future; it's making the statement that quality matters.

Robert O'Neill

Capital Fundraiser energized, enters new phase—The Centralia College Foundation launched a capital campaign to raise $3 million to outfit and support three new college structures by providing equipment and furnishings not provided for through state funding sources. The Foundation reports the actual Capital Campaign was jump-started with a $500,000 donation from TransAlta and $50,000 from the Associated Students of Centralia College last April. Recent gifts of $100,000 from the Robert H. O'Neill family and a similar amount from the Cunningham family have raised the total to well over a million dollars to date.

"We've raised more than a third of our goal already," said Steve Ward, Foundation executive director, "but the really energized portion of the campaign doesn't begin until now." Ward emphasized that campaign volunteers still need to raise nearly $2 million to meet unfunded construction, equipment, and program needs associated with three major construction projects.

Nearing completion is the college's Science Center, a three-story, 70,000-square foot state-of-the-art learning facility for physical, natural, and health sciences. The center will allow Centralia College to compete for top students in science, technology, engineering, math, and other sciences. Also scheduled for opening by the end of the year is a completely refurbished Health and Wellness Center, which includes the college's gym. College officials felt it was wisest to rebuild the venerable old Centralia High School gym, one of the last remaining "art-deco" architect examples in the region. The revamped structure will provide superior space for college and community health programs and facilities, allowing even greater public use of the building. The upgrades are costing only a fraction of a similar new construction. The remodel, according to Ward, is one of the best bargains going since $4 million of the $5 million cost is funded through state sources and grants.

On the drawing board is a new TransAlta College Commons, a multi-use facility that will include new "smart" classrooms, all Student Services offices and functions, a cafeteria, expanded dining facilities for community use, and several study areas for informal student use. The Commons is expected to become a focal point of student activity and alumni contact with the college.

Each of the three projects needs about $1 million to cover essential equipment and furnishings not provided by state funding. Capital Campaign volunteer leaders feel certain the community will respond generously to the new construction projects on the Centralia College campus. For more information on the Capital Campaign or on the three current projects, please call Julie Johnson at the Centralia College Foundation, 736-9391, ext. 290.

Leaders of the capital campaign

Capital Campaign Kickoff reveals tremendous early support—On Friday, May 16, 2008, the Centralia College Foundation held the official Kickoff Celebration for its 2008 Capital Campaign: “Proud of Our Past… Building Our Future.” The event, which was held in the lobby of Washington Hall, also offered tours of the new Science Center and student led tours of the college campus. A strong showing of community, business, and campus leaders was on hand to learn the vision of the campaign. During the event, Dr. James Walton, president of Centralia College, announced a $500,000 gift made by TransAlta, USA, toward the campaign and earmarked for the new TransAlta College Commons.

Other noteworthy gifts in support of the campaign are a $100,000 gift from Jack and Peg Cunningham of Centralia, earmarked for the new Hall of Fame within the remodeled Health & Wellness Center; $50,000 from the Associated Students of Centralia College (Student Government), earmarked for the new TransAlta College Commons; and a $50,000 gift from Larry and Rebecca McGee of Chehalis, earmarked for the greenhouse within the new Science Center.

The campaign’s leadership is excited about this level of support at such an early stage of the campaign and are confident the community will continue to endorse the campaign’s goals through even more support.

Capital Campaign launches, TransAlta contributes $500,000 to Commons Project—TransAlta, USA, the international power-generating company with a power plant in Centralia, pledged $500,000 toward the Centralia College Foundation Capital Campaign. The contribution, which was announced Friday, May 16, 2008, during the formal campaign kick-off, is directed toward the TransAlta College Commons. Read more »