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Simpson Center, Highers Complex Holds Dedication Ceremonies

Bob Simpson speaks during the dedication.

Bob Simpson speaks during the dedication.

Dec. 12, 2008

PHOTO GALLERY

Baylor University formally dedicated the much-anticipated Alwin O. and Dorothy Highers Athletics Complex and the Simpson Athletics and Academic Center today during a ceremony in the Champions Gallery within the Center.

Located alongside the Brazos River on University Parks Drive, this state-of-the-art facility is the first of its kind for Baylor, providing a 96,300-square-foot space to house innovative athletic training equipment, academic programs specifically designed to support all student-athletes and the staff members who serve them, all under the same roof.

"This is obviously a very exciting day as we officially integrate the Baylor athletics department and football program into the campus environment for the first time in more than 65 years," Ian McCaw, Baylor Director of Athletics, said. "We've spent the past couple of weeks moving in over here, and I can say that it feels good to be home."

Along with McCaw, the program's speakers included Baylor University Interim President and Dean of George W. Truett Theological Seminary Dr. David E. Garland, Chairman of the Board and Founder of XTO Energy Inc. Bob Simpson, Head Baylor Football Coach Art Briles and Athletics Chaplain Wes Yeary.

Floor one of the Simpson Athletics and Academic Center features facilities such as the main athletics training room, equipment room, football team locker room, coaches' locker room and weight room, connecting student-athletes with greater access to the services and facilities they need right on campus.

As well as housing administrative offices, the football office and meeting rooms, the second floor accommodates the academic center, which includes 22 individual tutoring rooms, a computer lab, learning center and two classrooms.

"This is a great day for Baylor Athletics and our football program. I'd like to thank the Highers family, Bob Simpson and his family as well as XTO Energy for their generosity in making this wonderful facility a reality," Bears' head football coach Art Briles said. "The Baylor Board of Regents, President Garland and Ian McCaw (Director of Athletics) are to be commended for the leadership and vision they've provided for this complex, which is unparalleled in Baylor Athletics history. This facility will put us on a level field in recruiting and it will change the way people view Baylor. It says that we are a Big 12 football program and we are serious about playing in this league."

Two of Baylor's own generously provided for much of the facility. The lead gift for the project, the largest single gift in Baylor's history, came from the estate of Alwin O. Highers Jr. of Alexandria, La. Highers graduated from Baylor in 1939 and was an ardent fan of Baylor athletics. His benevolent gift provided the initial vision for the complex.

Bob Simpson joined the effort and provided the support that enabled the expanded facility to include additional components such as the academic center. Simpson graduated from Baylor with an undergraduate degree in 1970 and a master's of business administration degree in 1971.

"It is only fitting that this complex be named in honor of these two avid Baylor fans and that their legacy has brought the sounds of football back to Baylor campus," Dr. Garland said. "We are so grateful to the Highers and Simpson families and XTO Energy for their generous gifts that made this facility possible."

"Baylor's a great institution in both academics and athletics--we're proud of that and we're proud of Baylor's commitment to integrity," Simpson said. "I thrived and grew as a student in this atmosphere and now we're giving back to Baylor as a family. I cherish this day and these memories."

Simpson has exhibited his commitment to Baylor through service on the Baylor Foundation, as a life member of the Alumni Association, is a member of the Endowed Scholarship Society and Baylor Bear Foundation, and regularly attends Baylor sporting events--especially Baylor football.

Supporting several of Baylor's 2012 Imperatives, specifically Imperative X--to build with integrity a winning athletic tradition in all sports--the Complex will integrate student-athletes more fully into Baylor campus life. Its presence is also projected to greatly impact recruiting for Baylor athletes, especially in football--advancing Baylor's stated goal of Victory with Integrity.

For more information about ways to get involved with this new facility, contact Rick Darnell at (254) 710-2561 or Doug Smith at (254) 710-3650.