John Brown University Gets $3M for Residence Hall Renovation

John Brown University of Siloam Springs announced Tuesday a $3 million lead gift from an anonymous donor for the renovation of the historic J. Alvin Brown residence hall. The total cost for the renovation will be $5.5 million.

The university said the renovation will remodel the 93-year old men’s dormitory, updating rooms into modern suites. J. Alvin Brown is the oldest university structure on campus.

Construction is expected to begin this summer and be completed by summer 2014.

"With this renovation, J. Alvin, which has had a shaping influence on the lives of young Christian men for generations, will be preserved for the benefit of generations of men yet to come to JBU," Dr. Chip Pollard, JBU president, said in a news release. "We are deeply grateful for the anonymous lead gift, and we look forward to the additional support that will be needed to make this critical renovation a reality."

The university said part of the lead gift has been designated as a matching challenge, meaning funds contributed by other donors will be doubled by the lead gift, up to $1.25 million.

"We're excited we will be able to continue the legacy of this historic building. We hear often from our alumni about the great memories and lifelong friends made when living in J. Alvin," Dr. Jim Krall, vice president for advancement, said. "I am thankful that part of this lead gift is a matching opportunity for $1.25 million that will encourage alumni and friends of JBU to give the remaining funds needed to complete the project."

JBU estimates more than 4,000 students have lived in J. Alvin since 1921.

"J. Alvin has always been a social center on campus, where deep friendships are made, and men develop strong character together as a part of the residential experience here at JBU," Dr. Steve Beers, vice president for student development and facilities, said. "There is a brotherhood among J. Alvin men that transcends generations."

Beers said restoring the building would cost less than razing the dorm and building comparable new housing.