College receives major gift for science building

Homer and Marj Hiner pledge $500,000 for project

Drawing-board plans for a new science building at Huntington College moved significantly closer to becoming reality today as President G. Blair Dowden announced a $500,000 gift from Homer and Marjorie Hiner of Huntington. The couple has designated the gift toward the new 75,000-square-foot, $16.5 million facility.

"Huntington College has always been a part of our lives," said Marj Hiner.

Artist's rendering of new 75,000-square-foot, $16.5M science facility.
Click image for closer view. Click here for high-resolution TIFF file (3.3 MB).

"We've been in business for 32 years, and we raised a family here. The College has been a part of both. Our children were always on campus, experiencing art, culture-even basketball camps. For our business, Huntington College offered educational opportunities, workshops and seminars, employee shadowing programs, and some outstanding employees that helped our business grow."

"I don't think people always recognize how much Huntington College means to our community. It provides a vital leg to Huntington's economy," she added. "Through our 32 years in business and raising our family, we've seen Huntington College grow and develop. That growth enhanced our growth as well."

"Huntington College has been a part of our past in so many ways, we felt we wanted to help today in some fashion, in order for the college to meet the challenges of tomorrow," Mrs. Hiner said. "Our support is just our way of saying 'thanks' for being a part of our lives."

"We are overwhelmed by the Hiners' generosity," said Dowden. "They share a bold vision of what Huntington College can become, and they have stepped forward to provide significant leadership for making those dreams a reality."

Dowden expects Huntington College's new science building to offer many additional benefits to the local community. "A strengthened science program at Huntington College will ensure that local businesses have access to top-notch graduates, who are trained in the most current technologies," he said.

"The expanded capacity of the facility will enable the College to provide outreach to local public schools, offering students at all grade levels the opportunity to see science at work. And stronger programs in science and technology will ensure that local families with college-age children will not have to choose between a top-notch science education and the distinctive, values-oriented environment Huntington College provides."

According to Dr. Gerald Smith, professor of physics and chemistry, the new building is being designed to provide the flexible classroom and laboratory space essential to teaching the sciences in a student-centered, highly personal environment. "Subject-specific laboratory space for both faculty and students will foster creativity and inquiry," said Smith. "Advanced instrumentation and integrated computer technology will expand the scope of knowledge and investigation, and ensure that Huntington's students are prepared for the equipment and subject matter they'll encounter in graduate school and in industry."

In recognition of the Hiners' gift, a large lecture auditorium of the second floor of the new building will be designated "Hiner Hall." The multipurpose facility will feature seating and workspace for up to 70 students. The auditorium will be wired for computer-enhanced multimedia presentations and satellite down-links.

"Homer and Marj Hiner have been good friends, both to me personally and to the College," said President Dowden. "I am so grateful for their willing partnership in this strategic building project."

The science building is the highest-profile project in a $37 million capital campaign at the Christian liberal arts college. According to Ned Kiser, vice president for advancement, The Campaign for Huntington College has four primary goals: the new science building and its operating endowment ($18.5 million), increased endowment for scholarships ($6.4 million), key campus improvements and renovations ($3.1 million), and unrestricted annual giving ($9 million over the course of the campaign).

President Dowden and HC's Advancement staff have been contacting foundations and major donors regarding these campaign goals for more than a year. Initial funding was received from Lilly Endowment Inc., which granted Huntington College $8.55 million in November 1998, much of which was designated toward campaign projects.

Huntington College will formally launch the final phase of the $37 million capital campaign on April 28. This two-year public phase will seek the participation of all HC alumni, friends, and donors. The campaign kick-off is scheduled to coincide with the Board of Trustees' spring meeting. [Click here to make a gift.]

Marj and Homer Hiner founded Hiner Transport Inc. in Huntington in 1967. The company was sold to an Indianapolis businessman in 1999, but remains rooted in the community, like the Hiners themselves. They have long been active in many civic organizations and community development projects.

Homer Hiner has served in leadership roles in a number of professional associations, including the American Trucking Association and Truck Load Carriers Board. Marj Hiner has served as president of the United Way, chair of the United Way Campaign, president of the Huntington Chamber of Commerce, president of Huntington County Leadership, and chair of the annual Heritage Days festival. She is currently president of the Dan Quayle Center and Museum board of directors, president of the Huntington Memorial Medical Foundation, vice-chair of Parkview Health Systems, and a member of the boards of Indiana Motor Truck Association, Ball State University Foundation, and the Heritage Fund of Huntington County.

Of her many community involvements, Mrs. Hiner is perhaps proudest of helping to launch the "R.M. Hafner Award for Business Citizen of the Year" during her tenure as president of the Chamber of Commerce. "Doc Hafner was sort of my mentor in the business world," she said. "He was so special to a lot of us."

Huntington College won that award in 1996, on the eve of its centennial year. "We recognized years ago that the College is an important part of Huntington's well being," said Mrs. Hiner. "We always have felt that our College has an economic impact that Huntington should not overlook."

Homer and Marj Hiner discuss plans for the new building with President Blair Dowden.

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