LEVELLAND, Texas (PRESS RELEASE) – South Plains College will host the grand opening and dedication of the Wilburn and Helen Wheeler Science Center on September 9th at 10am at the Helen DeVitt Jones Student Learning Center.
The ceremony and ribbon cutting will be followed by an open house and guided tours.
Through their endowment, the William R. and Sandra L. Wheeler Charitable Foundation, the Wheelers have pledged $7,000,000 towards the expansion and renovation of the Science Building on the Levelland campus. In recognition of this support, the SPC Board of Regents approved renaming the building the Wilburn and Helen Wheeler Science Center in honor of Bill Wheeler’s parents.
Bill Wheeler, a native of Levellander and Distinguished Alumnus of SPC, fondly reflects on his childhood. Levelland was a friendly, safe place to grow up. Wilburn Wheeler, his father and Helen Wheeler had moved to Levelland in 1946 after his father left World War II. The elder Wheeler became the band director of Levelland High School.
Bill Wheeler says that with the founding of South Plains College, Hockley County residents created an anchor for the community similar to the impact Texas Tech University has as the hub of West Texas. The growth of both institutions continues to bring jobs and business opportunities to this region.
“What I’m doing with the Science Center is a ‘thank you South Plains College,'” he said.
The founding of South Plains College in 1957 was a lifesaver for the Wheeler family. Wilburn Wheeler approached then-SPC President Dr. Thomas Spencer. Wilburn Wheeler received his math degree from Texas Tech University and his master’s degree in education.
dr Spencer asked Wilburn Wheeler to join the college’s original 19 faculty members to found the college, giving him the opportunity to go back to school and earn a master’s degree in mathematics while he worked for the college. He was also asked to start the band program. The band played at the basketball games, backing the Tex-Ann Drill Team, backing the Texettes Choir, and other occasions. To recruit students for the band, all band members were allotted free books. The band grew to over 60 members. In the evenings he also gave a band class for adults in the church.
While at SPC, Wilburn Wheeler served as chairman of the college’s mathematics department from 1964 to 1974 and was named a recipient of Levelland First National Bank’s fourth annual Excellence in Teaching Award. After driving a school bus for the public schools, Helen Wheeler joined SPC as a librarian.
The Wilburn and Helen Wheeler Science Center was made possible through the generous support of the William R. and Sandra L. Wheeler Charitable Foundation, the Helen Jones Foundation, Inc., and the Montgomery Family Foundation.
For more information, contact Dane Dewbre, Executive Director of Marketing and Communications, at (806) 716-2210 or email [email protected]
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