The M.G. & Lillie A. Johnson Foundation has committed to providing the University of Houston-Victoria with $2 million for the construction of a student recreation and health center. This is the biggest gift in the university’s history.

The gift will help fund the construction of the UHV Health & Wellness Center. Also funding the center is a student fee that UHV students voted in December 2018 to approve. The University of Houston System Board of Regents gave its approval in August for UHV to move forward with searching for qualified architectural firms to design the center.

“We are deeply grateful for the M.G. & Lillie A. Johnson Foundation’s continued support of UHV,” President Bob Glenn said. “The student recreation and health center will help UHV meet its goals to increase the number of students taking classes on the Victoria campus.”

The center will be built on the vacant lot on the southeast corner of Red River and Ben Wilson streets, near the new UHV University Commons student center and library and across Ben Wilson from Dairy Queen. The center will have amenities that include cardio and weights areas, an indoor track, a basketball court that can be modified for other sports such as volleyball or badminton, two multipurpose rooms for fitness classes and locker rooms.

In addition to fitness amenities, UHV plans to offer health services for students in the building, and the center also will have classrooms for students in health-related majors to take courses.

“The M.G. & Lillie A. Johnson Foundation has been involved with UHV for many years,” said Robert Halepeska, the foundation’s executive vice president. “We believe that as UHV grows and thrives, so will Victoria. This new Health & Wellness Center will help the university reach its destination as a comprehensive institution, and it will help UHV attract, retain and graduate more students. We are pleased to support this building project with this substantial grant commitment.”

The center will be open to UHV students as well as faculty, staff, alumni and Victoria College students. Students from other universities who are home during the summer or holidays also will be able to use the center. A membership fee will be charged for those who are not UHV students to use the facility. The university hopes to have an architect chosen by this spring, with plans to open the center by fall 2023.

“The Johnson Foundation has made a long-term commitment to help UHV move forward on our path of development, and we would not be where we are today as a university without the foundation’s support,” said Jesse Pisors, UHV vice president for advancement and external relations. “The foundation has done so much for our students and the future of the Victoria community over the past 30 years, and we are grateful for its continued support.”

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