UF announces $6 million gift towards a new building

The Watterson Center for Ethical Leadership will take a few years to become reality but got a huge boost in fundraising for the project.

By Pulse Staff

The University of Findlay announced a $6 million gift from Billy and Brenda Watterson Thursday towards a new building on campus. The University says this is the largest single donation in University history.

The new building will be the Watterson Center for Ethical Leadership. Billy Watterson, a 1996 graduate of the University and a UF Board of Trustees member, today spoke about his hope to create an “army of ethical leaders” by inspiring students to think critically, and engage in difficult yet constructive conversations about ethical leadership, equity, and inclusion.

“The reality is we live in such a fractured society today. We can’t even speak to each other. It’s horrific,” Watterson said. “You don’t have to go very far to realize that labels are being thrown around. We hate each other. We don’t even know why. We haven’t even met each other.

The University released a rendering of the proposed building but is still making decisions about everything that will be housed in the building. It will be home to the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences which is currently spread out among several houses in a four-block radius, according to CAHSS Dean Dr. Ron Tulley.

Vice President of University Advancement Marcia Sloan Latta, Ed.D., says the idea for the building began quite awhile ago, but she and President Dr. Katherine Fell talked with the Wattersons about two years ago about contributing to the campaign.

The Wattersons have been generous donors in the past and most recently donated $1 million to the University of Findlay’s Environment, Health, Safety, and Sustainability (EHSS) Program  in October.

Latta said UF is grateful for the Wattersons’ generous gift to kick-start the effort.

“I’ve gotten to know the Wattersons quite well and they are the epitome of leading involved, ethical leadership lives,” Latta said.

“We will also be securing many, many other gifts,” Latta continued. “We’ll have lots of naming opportunities. It will quite likely take a few years before we get to the point where we break ground, but today was the start of something wonderful.”

Watterson spoke to a large crowd at the Student Life Center in the College of Business building, the latest major building constructed on campus in 2017. He encouraged others to get involved in the fundraising for the new building.

“We are asking for your support,” Watterson said. “It’s been an incredible journey so far. But we need you at every level.”

The University has not yet decided on the exact location of the building, according to Tulley, but the institution has a couple of ideas under consideration.

In addition to multiple large and small meeting areas, the Watterson Center for Ethical Leadership will house faculty from various CAHSS departments, which could include Communication, English, History, Law and Gender Studies, Justice Sciences, Language and Culture, Religious Studies and Philosophy, Behavioral Sciences, and Visual and Performing Arts.

“From the time a freshman enters at the undergraduate level, every student takes their foundational course through the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. So, it lays the foundation,” Latta said. “You learn to think and think critically, you learn to be understanding of others, you learn to develop your value system through that. And from all of that, that helps to determine an appreciation and understanding of ethical behavior and leadership.”

Watterson made it clear in his speech that he has high hopes for what the new building means to the University.

“Together we are going to build the Watterson Center for Ethical Leadership. Together we will secure the future of the University of Findlay,” Watterson said. “And together we will become a beacon of light and hope for this broken world.”

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