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Cooper Alumni Center receives gift from Lavon and
Mary Ellen Wells
Oct. 10, 2008 --
The Arkansas State
University Alumni Association has received a gift toward the new Cooper
Alumni Center from Lavon and Mary Ellen Wells of Dallas, Texas. Wells, a long-time supporter of the Alumni
Association who received a degree in agriculture from A-State in 1965,
is retired as owner of MTM Enterprises of Dallas. He and his wife Mary
Ellen are in the process of moving back to Jonesboro.
The Cooper Alumni Center held a 'soft opening' on Sept. 20,
and holds its formal dedication on Oct. 17. According to Beth Smith,
executive director of the ASU Alumni Association, "Lavon was one of the
first donors to see the vision for the project and his participation has
enabled us to complete construction and open the building." The patio
facing the lake will be named in honor of Lavon and Mary Ellen Wells for
their gift of stock to the ASU Foundation with proceeds directed toward
the Cooper Alumni Center.
According to Wells, "I started by saying that I guessed I could give
$10,000. Then it was $20,000 and the next thing I knew, the commitment
was for much more. For me, the taxpayers of Arkansas allowed me to
further my education and it was time for me to give back to them and to
The Cooper Alumni Center is built on the site of what is often
remembered as the 'old pavilion.' Wells, who was a member of Tau Kappa
Epsilon fraternity as a student, said the patio to be named for him,
overlooking the lake, holds special memories: "Back in my undergraduate
days, the Tekes had a tradition of anyone getting dropped (going steady)
or pinned (a promise to be serious) to be thrown into the pavilion pond,
weather notwithstanding, from the patio at the old pavilion."
He adds, "ASU
alumni have been needing a gathering place. I really appreciate Darrell
and Charlotte Cooper for stepping forward, as have all the others, to
see that we have this beautiful alumni center."
In 2003, the ASU Alumni Association received a $2 million gift from
Darrell and Charlotte Pugh Cooper of Clarkston, Michigan, toward the
construction of the 20,000 square-foot facility. Both of the Coopers
were members of the A-State class of 1964. Their contribution started
the fundraising for the privately-funded facility, named the Cooper
Alumni Center in recognition of their gift.
The multipurpose facility includes a banquet hall, board room, meeting
areas, history room, and office space for the alumni and development
units of the university. The back terrace overlooking the lake will
contain engraved bricks available for purchase. A reception area and
lounge will have a view of the lake, with the banquet room accommodating
seated dinners for 200 people. Included in the office wing will be the
workspaces for ASU Alumni Relations, the Office of Development, and the
Vice-Chancellor for University Advancement and staff.
Gary Pugh, class of 1968, serves as the current president of the ASU
Alumni Association and has been part of the construction of the Alumni
Center since its groundbreaking in 2005. He said, "Every great
university has an alumni building as its centerpiece, a place that ties
in current students with alumni as well as friends of the university.
Our alumni will have a place to gather, the Cooper Alumni Center."
Pugh adds, "The Alumni Center was a vision for many people for a long
time. We planned for many years before the vision became a reality.
There are still opportunities for donations and naming opportunities. I
believe people will want to be involved with it when they see it. The
Cooper Alumni Center truly belongs to members of the ASU Alumni
Association as well as all alumni of the university."
According to Beth Smith, who has spearheaded the construction, "We've
never had our own place on campus for visiting alumni. That was a
driving force for raising the funds and getting this project started. It
is our goal for alumni to come back to campus and meet at the Alumni
Center before walking to the stadium or going to the Fowler Center. They
can visit our history room to look at photos in old yearbooks, and to
reminisce about their college days. We hope to capture some of their
stories so we can be part of preserving ASU history, especially now as
we are heading into our Centennial celebration."
There are currently more than 60,000 ASU alumni. For more information on
the Alumni Association or the Cooper Alumni Center, contact the ASU
Alumni office at 870-972-ALUM (2586), or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more details and photos of the facility, see the Alumni Association