TCU gets $30 million gift for business school expansion

08/26/2014 5:12 PM

08/26/2014 5:13 PM

A $30 million gift to Texas Christian University is the first big step toward a $100 million expansion of the Neeley School of Business, TCU officials announced Tuesday.

The gift is from Spencer Hays of Nashville and his wife, Marlene Hays. He is an emeritus TCU trustee and a businessman who graduated from TCU in 1959.

“It’s a transformational gift for Texas Christian University,” said Chancellor Victor Boschini Jr. “It will allow us to dream even bigger dreams.”

The expansion will be called the Marlene and Spencer Hays Business Commons.

The Hays donation is the first for an ambitious fundraising effort, said O. Homer Erekson, the John V. Roach dean of the Neeley School of Business.

“It will help us build and renovate facilities and enable us to recruit top performers — world-class faculty, staff and students who can further strengthen Neeley’s profile among peer institutions,” Erekson said.

The project’s timeline depends on how quickly TCU can reach its $100 million goal, he said.

The project, on the east side of South University Drive, calls for integrating new buildings with the existing Neeley buildings at 2900 Lubbock Ave. The result will be a U-shaped complex in which the base of the “U” faces Lubbock Avenue while the “arms” open onto the campus, Boschini said.

The complex will serve as an entry point for the eastern side of the campus. It will include the commons, an office complex, auditorium and classrooms that promote collaborative learning.

“We will have the very best technology in all the rooms,” Erekson said, explaining that the buildings will have traditional lecture rooms along with “dynamic learning environments” with moveable tables that can be configured in different ways to promote teamwork.

“Good things happen when people gather for ideas,” he said.

Some of the classroom walls will be made of a material that can be written on, he said.

The complex will also be part of TCU’s Intellectual Commons, a separate project that includes renovation of the library and other buildings.

Boschini said the gift is a “big shot for our confidence.”

The school’s vision for business education promotes teamwork, an area of expertise for Hays, Boschini said.

Hays is involved in several business fields including publishing, clothing, insurance, financial planning, school fundraising and real estate. His businesses include the Tom James Co., the world’s largest manufacturer and direct seller of custom clothing. Hays is also executive chairman of the Southwestern Co., for whom he sold books door-to-door as a TCU student.

“Marlene and I are very excited that we can help build the future at TCU,” Hays said in a news release.

“We are investing in a space where business, innovation and the principles that drive all our businesses will come together to inspire future generations of students.”

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