Historic Gift Will Fund Baptist Community Services Nursing Education Floor for WT

Chip Chandler Feb 11, 2021
  • Nursing
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Historic Gift Will Fund Baptist Community Services Nursing Education Floor for WT


Photo: Celebrating the announcement of High Plains Christian Ministries Foundation's historic gift were, from left, Dr. Todd Rasberry, vice president of philanthropy and external relations; Andrew Mitchell, president of the WTAMU Foundation board of directors; Dyke Rogers, chair of the WT campaign leadership committee; Mike Wartes, chair of Baptist Community Services board of trustees; Dr. Walter Wendler, WT President; Carroll Bedwell, chair of HPCMF board of trustees; Steve Dalrymple, president, chief executive officer and chief legal officer of HPCMF and BCS; Dr. Holly Jeffreys, head of WT's Department of Nursing; Dr. Neil Terry, WT provost and executive vice president; and Dr. J. Dirk Nelson, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,


Click here to watch the video of the press conference.


CANYON, Texas — In the largest gift in its history, High Plains Christian Ministries Foundation will give $3 million to support West Texas A&M University’s nursing program.

The gift also is the fourth-largest single gift in the University’s history.

“This is a significant investment in our student nurses and our faculty — nearly double the size of any gift the foundation has ever given,” said Dr. J. Dirk Nelson, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. “We are humbled by their faith in us and determined to use this gift to serve the Texas Panhandle and beyond.”

WT will recognize the gift, to be paid out over three years, by naming a floor in Harrington Academic Hall WTAMU Amarillo Center at Eighth Avenue and Tyler Street.

Construction and remodeling began in November on what will be known as the Baptist Community Services Nursing Education Floor on the second floor of the Harrington Center.

“This renovation on our second floor will provide us with 25,000 square feet of new labs, classrooms, offices, study areas and more to better educate our outstanding student nurses,” said Dr. Holly Jeffreys, head of the Department of Nursing. “We are incredibly grateful that High Plains Christian Ministries Foundation sees the dedicated work being done by our faculty and staff and is generously contributing to the education of the fine students who will become front-line, essential workers throughout the city, the region and the country.”

Students and faculty will move into the facility over the summer to begin use in Fall 2021. The total project budget is $7 million.

High Plains Christian Ministries Foundation is a part of the Baptist Community Services organizational family. The Foundation supports the senior adult services and community wellness programs of BCS, including Park Central and the Snack Pak 4 Kids weekend food insecurity program.

“Baptist Community Services is excited and honored to partner through its foundation, High Plains Christian Ministries Foundation, with West Texas A&M University and its outstanding nursing program,” said Mike Wartes, chairman of the Baptist Community Services board of trustees. “We feel confident that this partnership will lead to the expansion of this great program and its development of more top-flight nurses for Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle region.”

“This $3 million naming gift from High Plains Christian Ministries Foundation represents the second-largest gift to date since my arrival and the launch of the WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World long-range plan,” said University President Dr. Walter Wendler. “This gift adds to the powerful momentum of our comprehensive capital campaign that is only in its beginning phases.”

In August, The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents gave final approval to spend $6.5 million to renovate the Amarillo Center’s second floor. When finished, the move will place 250 undergraduate students and approximately 20 nursing faculty and staff in Amarillo, and it will offer greater opportunities for collaboration between the nursing program and other WT programs including communication disorders, the Panhandle Area Education Center and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

“High Plains Christian Ministries Foundation and Baptist Community Services are blessed to invest in an outstanding facility for WTAMU's growing nursing program. We are confident that this facility will complement the programs of West Texas A&M University under the exceptional leadership and direction of President Dr. Walter V. Wendler,” said Carroll Bedwell, chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees.

“Not only will students receive excellent training at reasonable cost, but they will also be available to contribute to our Amarillo area medical community and the overall well-being of the Panhandle of Texas,” Bedwell said. “This is a great day for WTAMU and the Amarillo/Canyon area and truly one of our greatest community investments.”

Gifts such as this by High Plains Christian Ministries Foundation help build undergraduate academic excellence, a key maxim of the University’s long-term plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.


About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. With enrollment of more than 10,000, WT offers 60 undergraduate degree programs, 40 master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 15 men’s and women’s athletics programs.