Poarch Band of Creek Indians donates $500k to help fund USA's new alumni center
MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) —
Read the full release from the South Alabama National Alumni Association:
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians has donated $500,000 to support the new Julian and Kim MacQueen Alumni Center, the University of South Alabama National Alumni Association announced today. The funds will be used to build the Center’s ballroom, which will be named the Chief Calvin W. McGhee Grand Ballroom, after the tribe’s longtime leader and equal rights activist.
The MacQueen Alumni Center, which is being funded through philanthropic gifts to the USA National Alumni Association, will serve as the permanent home for University alumni. The center will be located in the epicenter of campus, across from Moulton Tower and Alumni Plaza, on USA Drive South. The Poarch Creeks’ donation will allow the alumni association to break ground on the project soon.
“We are proud to have the ballroom named in honor of my late great-grandfather and a leader everyone admired,” said Robert R. McGhee, vice chair, Poarch Band of Creek Indians. “During his lifetime, Chief McGhee always strived to attain equal rights for his people and believed that education was an integral part of our lives. Many tribal members have graduated from USA, and it is inspiring to know they will have a place at the new alumni center named for a former tribal leader. This honor will continue his legacy that everyone should be able to obtain an education.”
Born in 1903, Chief McGhee was best known for protesting the unequal educational rights of the tribal youth. His activism led to the Escambia County School Board granting equal educational opportunities for the Poarch Creek tribe in the late 1940s. McGhee passed away in 1970.
“We are honored to be able to name the new alumni center ballroom after such a historic educational advocate and leader,” said Margaret M. Sullivan, vice president for development and alumni relations at the University of South Alabama. “His legacy will continue to have a positive impact on our thousands of graduates who will call this center their home for generations to come.”
Plans for a new alumni center began in 2015 and became a reality when Julian (’73) and Kim MacQueen came forward with a $2 million gift. Julian MacQueen, who founded Innisfree Hotels, realized the importance of building a permanent alumni home on campus.
“We take care of each other and create a family of support at Innisfree Hotels,” said MacQueen. “It’s very important to create unity in everything we do. We’ve realized that can’t happen unless there is a gathering place, and we hope the alumni center is going to be exactly that.”
Alumni Association President Doug Whitmore believes the addition of a new center will elevate the experience for the University’s more than 80,000 alumni. “The MacQueen Alumni Center will allow our alumni the opportunity to have a true home on campus for the first time in the University’s history,”
said Whitmore. “From homecoming activities, to symposiums, to chapter events, the alumni center will transform the ability of our alumni to connect with each other and the University. We are so grateful to the MacQueens, the Poarch Creek tribe and to everyone who has given to make this center a reality.”
University of South Alabama President Dr. Tony Waldrop emphasized the significance of this gift and the investment from all USA alumni toward the alumni center. “The transformational gifts from Julian and Kim MacQueen and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians will make the center a reality, and we are grateful for their support and for all of those who have contributed.”