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July 31, 2013
By Roseann Keegan
The William N. Pennington Foundation has made a $6 million lead gift to name the William N. Pennington Student Achievement Center at the University of Nevada, Reno, representing half of the $12 million in philanthropic support the University is seeking for the center. Final approval for the naming of the center will be presented to the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents.
The new Student Achievement Center, set for the location of the former Getchell Library, will be a 77,064 square-foot, multi-winged facility that will allow the University to bring under one roof a myriad of student-success services now scattered across campus. These include the Writing Center, Math Center, Tutoring Center, Service Learning and Civic Engagement Center, Career Studio, Advising Center, Student Veterans Lounge, Disability Resource Center, Counseling Services, the Center for Student Cultural Diversity and TRiO Scholars Programs. The anticipated completion date for the new Student Achievement Center is December 2015.
The University of Nevada, Reno, recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a national Tier 1 university, has had several student-centered capital improvement projects built on the main University campus in Reno in recent years: the Joe Crowley Student Union, the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, the Davidson Mathematics and Science Center, the William N. Pennington Health Sciences Building, the Marguerite Wattis Petersen Academic Center and the Nevada Living Learning Community.
"Not only do these buildings, and the programs they house, assist with academic excellence and recruitment, they also provide opportunities to engage and retain students at our university," said University President Marc Johnson.
"The William N. Pennington Student Achievement Center will allow the University to continue to attract top students and reach the goal to increase enrollment from 18,000 to 22,000 students throughout the next 10 years," Johnson added. "This enrollment growth will provide an economic impact of $145 million annually into the northern Nevada economy, and will make Reno-Sparks into an increasingly vibrant college town."
Mr. Pennington, philanthropist and gaming pioneer, acquired Circus Circus in 1974 and soon turned the business into Nevada's leading employer and one of the most successful gaming companies in the world.
He established the William N. Pennington Foundation in 1989 to provide grants to Nevada-based organizations in the areas of education, community services, health care and medical research.
As Mr. Pennington wrote at the time, "Having grown up in the Great Depression, when my family faced difficult times, I know very well the hardships that can befall anyone at any time. During my years in business, I was fortunate to work with thousands of wonderful employees, most of them Nevadans. I am grateful to all of them for their hard work, commitment and friendship. Their efforts helped create this foundation, and I hope the foundation will, in turn, help the future generations of Nevadans for many years to come."
The William N. Pennington Foundation has given significantly to the University, including lead gifts to the William N. Pennington Health Sciences Building and the Pennington Medical Education Building, and has generously supported general and medical student scholarships at the University for nearly 20 years.
Mr. Pennington was bestowed the Distinguished Nevadan award by the Nevada Board of Regents in 1997 and awarded the University's President's Medal in 2007. He received an honorary degree from the University in 2008.
Mr. Pennington led a remarkable life, passing away at 88, one month before the William N. Pennington Health Sciences Building opened. The William N. Pennington Foundation is continuing and multiplying his legacy at the University.