Belton, Texas – University of Mary Hardin-Baylor announced today that the Leroy and Merle Weir Charitable Trust has made the first major gift toward a new nursing building planned for the Belton campus. The trustees approved a grant of $500,000 to be made to the university as a catalyst for generating additional gifts and grants for the project.
The $20 million nursing facility will offer 70,000 square feet of space to house the university’s Scott & White College of Nursing. The building will feature state-of-the-art laboratories and classrooms, faculty offices, a learning resource center, and a lecture hall for UMHB’s nursing program, which has experienced significant growth in recent years.
“We deeply appreciate the trustees of the Leroy and Merle Weir Charitable Trust for taking the initiative to kick off fundraising for this project with such a generous gift,” said Dr. Randy O’Rear, president of UMHB. “We are confident that this gift will encourage other major donors to step forward to assist in funding this new home for the College of Nursing. Texas needs more nurses, and the completion of these facilities will allow UMHB to open our nursing program to many more students in the years to come. We are grateful for the vision of the trustees in partnering with us to make this dream a reality.”
The trust was founded by Mrs. Merle Weir, who with her husband, Leroy, managed a 900-acre ranch near Georgetown, Texas. After her husband’s death in 1964, Mrs. Weir was unable to manage the ranch alone, so she studied the potential of the land itself and discovered it contained vast deposits of limestone. Her negotiations with local firms to quarry the stone resulted in entering into a lease with Texas Crushed Stone, the second-largest limestone-producing quarry in the United States, and the wealth generated from the royalties made it possible for Mrs. Weir to devote the rest of her life to civic service and philanthropy. The trust she established in 1978 provides continuing support for Texas Baptist organizations, with special emphasis on education and nursing, since those were particular interests of Mrs. Weir. For more than 25 years, the trust has supported UMHB through gifts for scholarships and the endowment.
UMHB has contracted with GSC Architects of Austin to design the new building, which will be constructed on the southern edge of the campus at 9th Avenue and Shine Street. The university plans to break ground for the facility before the end of this year with the goal of completing the building by fall 2013.