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SPC Scholarship Gala yields record community support
LEVELLAND – Community leaders, former students, faculty, staff and friends of South Plains College turned out last Saturday to recognize the importance of scholarships for future SPC students and raised more than $180,000 for that cause at the 15th Annual Scholarship Gala.
More than 500 people attended the evening that was highlighted by a stellar country music performance by the faculty and students of the Creative Arts Department. The scholarship gala was hosted by City Bank and the South Plains College Foundation. Great Western Dining served as underwriting partner for the event.
“The turnout and support from the community for South Plains College was just tremendous,” said Dr. Kelvin Sharp, president of South Plains College. “The success of the gala highlights the overwhelming generosity of this community, our friends and our alumni and the support they have for South Plains College. We are so very appreciative of everyone who helped make the gala a record-breaking success.”
During his opening remarks, Dr. Sharp spoke about the continued growth of the college, focusing on the event’s theme “Picture the Opportunities.”
“There is great energy in this room tonight,” Dr. Sharp said. “We are here to do great things for helping SPC students achieve their dreams.”
Sharp provided the audience a progress report of major college accomplishments. “Last year we opened the Center for Allied Health Education in Gentry Square and Nathan Tubb Hall, the first student residence hall built in 30 years,” Dr. Sharp said. “This year we will renovate 20,000 square feet of space in Gentry Square for a new cosmetology school.” To meet the demand for on-campus student housing, the College Board of Regents has approved the construction of a second residence hall for young men that will be built next to Tubb Hall.
Dr. Sharp also announced to the recent purchase of 134 acres of land south east of the college off A&M Lane that will become the future home for the College Farm. This move will enable the College to use the eastern edge of the campus for future growth.
“Our main goal is to offer more opportunities for students to attend South Plains College,” Dr. Sharp said. “Your support does make a difference for SPC students and we are glad you share our vision to improve each student’s life.”
Participants were served a four-course gourmet meal and had the opportunity to participate in a live and silent auction that featured unique items donated by local businesses and friends of the Foundation. The menu was prepared by executive chef Mike Rodreick and the staff of Great Western Dining, Inc.
One highlight of the evening was the sharing of SPC student testimonials by Oyuki Perez of Morton, Ashlen Albus of Whitharral and Jordan Bowler of Lubbock.
Dinner music featured the 16-member South Plains Big Band and Dance Orchestra, composed of faculty and students of the Fine Arts Department at SPC. The group performed the popular big band music of the 1940s and 1950s and was directed by Jon Johnson, professor of music.
Opening with an act from the “Blues Brothers,” faculty and students of the commercial music program provided stellar entertainment that was high energy with a comedic twist. Commercial music student Karleigh Porterfield of Levelland wowed the audience with her rendition of “Chain of Fools.” Kurt Weldon of Jacksboro performed an original ballad he wrote, “I Can’t Fix You.” The show ended with a rousing performance of “Mama Don’t Allow” that featured all musicians on the stage.
The evening included the introduction of the 2013 recipients of the SPC Foundation’s Pacesetter Awards, which recognizes exemplary philanthropy and support of the Foundation. Honorees included Pat and Annette Sykora of Ransom Canyon, the Paul and Verna Musslewhite Family of Levelland, the Spencer and Irene Ellis Family of Levelland and United Supermarkets.
The Sykoras are owners of Smith-South Plains Ford, Lincoln and Dodge and were recognized for their contributions to the college’s initiative to raise impact scholarships through their sponsorship of the Scholarship gala and support of its fundraising auctions. Additionally, they have supported the automotive technology program as advisory committee members and as employers of SPC graduates.
The Paul and Verna Musslewhite Family were recognized for their support of the College through the establishment of the Paul and Verna Musslewhite Scholarship Endowment. The late Paul Musslewhite was recognized for the instrumental role he played in the 1970s to establish the South Plains Chapter American Petroleum Institute Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships for students in technical education programs. Representing the family during the award presentation were daughters, Jan Whitley and Nancy Joplin of Levelland.
Family members of the late Spencer and Irene Ellis were recognized for establishing two endowed scholarship programs. In 2004, Richard Ellis established the Spencer and Irene Ellis Memorial Scholarship Endowment to honor his grandparents who served the Levelland community for more than 40 years as owners of Ellis Pharmacy. Son Neal Ellis took over the business and operated Neal Ellis Pharmacy and Gift Shop for 18 years before moving to the Dallas area where he continued to work as a pharmacist until his unexpected death in 2006.
Carolyn Ellis, Neal’s widow, along with his children, established the Neal and Carolyn Ellis Scholarship Endowment to assist students majoring in pre-pharmacy. The Ellis family members have continued to support both scholarship funds. Representing the Ellis family during the award presentation were Richard and Carrie Ellis of Levelland.
United Supermarkets was recognized for a $150,000 corporate grant the company provided to equip the Nursing Skills Lab in the new Center for Allied Health Education. The funds were used to equip the 14-room training suite that is set-up like hospital patient rooms. Accepting the award were Eddie Owens, director of communications, and Jim Mara, manager of the Levelland United Supermarket store.
Fifty-two businesses and individuals joined the SPC Foundation as contributing sponsors for the event. An additional 68 individuals joined the Foundation as gala benefactors for the evening.
“We thank all our sponsors and attendees for their continued support of this event,” said Julie Gerstenberger, director of development. “I am thrilled that the event was such a great success. The community’s support is what allows South Plains College to continue to provide opportunities for the young people of our region to obtain a college education.”
For the 15th consecutive year, City Bank served as corporate host. Great Western Dining served as this year’s underwriting partner.
Diamond-level contributors included Benchmark Business Solutions, Eagle Rubber & Supply, Hockley County School Employees Credit Union, K-Bar Texas Electric, Lattimore Farms, Smith-South Plains, South Plains Community Action Association, Success Lake SEO with George & Iris Keeling and KLVT Radio, G&C Contracting with Ag Products, Inc., Worley Welding Works, Inc., Xcel Energy, and ZM Interiors with McCutchin Construction.
Platinum-level contributors included AIMBank, Prosperity Bank, Ameriprise Financial-Mike Mamantov, BGR Architects-Engineers, Mike Box, Brock’s Carpet and CleanCo., Coldwell Banker-Paxton Real Estate, Covenant Hospital Levelland, Earl and June Gerstenberger, Levelland and Hockley County News-Press, Lou Dee’s Floral & Gifts with Your Shop, Thunder on the Plains, Wade and Lori Wilson, Drs. Weerachai and Suvipa Wiri, Amazing Space Storage Solutions, Ray and Donna West, Larry and Helen Roberts, Plains Motor Supply, and Phi Beta Kappa Association of West Texas and Eastern New Mexico.
Gold-level contributors included Stueart’s Pit Stop, Dunn Crop Insurance, Chris and Susan Roberts, Levelland ISD, Bobby and Ann Capps, Tommy Parkinson, Ag Texas Farm Credit Services, Farmers Co-op Elevator Association, Dr. George Payne and Dr. Amanda Neal, Treanor Architects, A&H Supply and Macha Insurance Company.
Seventy-one businesses and individuals served as sponsors and provided 58 unique and finely crafted items that were offered in the live and silent auctions, which netted $90,500.
“We are so grateful to all our volunteers and sponsors who made this year’s gala a record-setting event,” said Gerstenberger. “As the college continues to grow, it’s great to know that our friends in the community want to help the college accomplish its educational mission.”