Alfa Pledges $250,000
Toward JSU Education Annex
|Alfa Insurance President Jerry Newby,
left, presents a $250,000 pledge to Jacksonville State University President
William A. Meehan during a campus luncheon on Tuesday. (Photo by Steve
Alfa Insurance has pledged $250,000 to Jacksonville State University
toward the construction of an education annex adjacent to Ramona Wood
Hall, JSU's College of Education and Professional Studies.
JSU President Bill Meehan said the Alfa gift will help construct a
classroom/seminar building that will consolidate a number of education
programs that are spread across campus due to a lack of space in Ramona
"The new building will feature an auditorium large enough to hold meetings
of more than 200 students," said President Meehan. "The building will
relieve overcrowding and provide a major boost to one of Alabama's largest
"Jacksonville State's track record of graduating more teachers than
any other state institution is a perfect match for Alfa's commitment
to education," said Jerry Newby, Alfa president and chief executive
officer. "We're excited about the prospects for future generations of
teachers once the new education annex is operational."
The facility will also house faculty offices, additional classrooms,
and space for tutoring and other programs. It will be built on the former
site of Abercrombie Hall, a dormitory that was located on the northwest
corner of the quad.
Alfa representatives presented a check to President Meehan in the amount
of $50,000 which represents the first of five yearly payments
on Tuesday, September 20, during a campus luncheon. Mr. Newby
was joined by JSU graduate Wayne Hawkins, executive vice president of
marketing; David Rickey, vice president of public relations, several
Alfa district managers and agents as well as representatives of the
Alabama Farmers Federation.
Dr. Cynthia Harper, dean of the College of Education and Professional
Studies, said, "We have been so cramped for space for so many years
that we've had to teach outside this building. In the new building,
we have plans for a large ascending classroom because we have a number
of students who enroll in our internship every semester, and when we
meet with those students we have to go away from Ramona Wood to find
something large enough to accommodate 200 students."
Harper said the building will also feature a new technology lab. "We
currently have one lab in Ramona Wood Hall, but we teach 35 percent
of the university's population. All of our students have to take specific
technology classes related to education, so we need the additional technology
The building will provide relief for a community outreach program called
the Teaching/Learning Center, which provides tutoring for area public
"Each afternoon, the Teaching/Learning Center's students scatter throughout
our building from 3:30 until 4:30 p.m., and we will be able to move
some of those students to the new building as well."
Harper said current plans call for Ramona Wood to be upgraded and connected
to the new building via a breezeway.
"I love Ramona Wood Hall it is beautiful and has a rich heritage,"
she said. "To me, the halls just tell so much of our history. It is
exciting to know that we will have the new facility coming and that
we will be better able to accommodate our students. Professionalism
is important, and we will be able to mirror that to our students. They
will know that teaching is a respected profession because everything
about the new building will exude that."
Harper said she is also proposing a videoconferencing room and asking
that all classrooms be wired as smart classrooms to accommodate the
"Every room in Ramona Wood is a smart classroom, so everything we do
in the new building will need to be at least as good as what we have
here in the old building," she said. A smart classroom is defined as
a classroom that contains infrastructure and hardware for multimedia
presentations, such as a teacher desk that houses a computer, VCR, and/or
digital presenter unit attached to a digital or LCD projection unit.
As for the fate of Ramona Wood Hall, which was built in 1939 on the
north side of the quad as the university's first library building, Harper
said, "The historic building has served us so well for so many years.
What I anticipate is that it will continue to serve those of us in teacher
education, and we're just looking forward to a new facility for expansion
purposes and just to present the best facility possible for our students."
Reflecting on what the new building will mean to JSU, Harper said,
"I really am humbled because I have been here 30 years, and I've seen
a lot of growth in teacher education. We are just humbled to know that
the College of Education and Professional Studies is on a list to improve
the facilities and the image of teacher education in our vicinity. Not
only that, but we will be making sure that the programs we offer continue
to be quality programs that will have a large impact on P - 12. We're
all about P-12 - providing the best teachers to meet the needs of children."
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