CENTRAL, SC (courtesy swu.edu) — Southern Wesleyan University’s new living and learning community now has a name.
Southern Wesleyan dedicated the Joiner-Hilson Complex April 10, celebrating the visionary idea for a facility that’s more than just another place to house students.
The complex is named in honor of the Joiner and Hilson families and their generosity towards Southern Wesleyan. Both families have left indelible marks on the university, as evidenced by numerous generations of students and a decades-old tradition of leadership.
Dr. Todd Voss, Southern Wesleyan University president, recalled sketching on napkins concepts for a living and learning community as a young college administrator.
“I was involved in Student Life for many years. I’m kind of a fledgling architect. I came up with a new kind of concept for a residence hall. We figured out a way to do that in a very collaborative sense and this incredible facility came out of the ground. What an amazing experience!”
“As a faith-filled community, this naming opportunity not only honors a family legacy, but also recognizes how God powerfully works through people who make themselves available to His will,” said Scott Drury, vice president for advancement. “For our faculty, staff and students, a naming opportunity instructs them on the rich heritage of faith and service and also serves to enrich and inspire the current generation of students who walk these halls. Each of these families represents multiple generations of commitment to SWU and each is now multiplying their impact as successive generations of new students experience spiritual and intellectual transformation living in these halls.”
“Some of you out there are visionaries, and some of you only deal with reality; and occasionally a vision becomes a reality, and we’re here to celebrate that vision that became a reality,” said Dr. Joe Brockinton, vice president for student life. “Dr. Voss had a vision of a new residence hall. Stealing a line from the movie ‘Field of Dreams,’ he believed ‘if you build it they will come’.” Brockinton added that when the university began to plan a new facility with developer Mainstreet Student Living – thanks to this vision – they had a plan in place and “God opened the door.”
“Residence life absolutely is the heartbeat of the university. Big spiritual decisions and big relational decisions are being made here. This place is very much a symbol of what’s to come,” said Jason Tegen, director of residence life.
Lexi Darling, a senior and a resident assistant, lived in Stuart-Bennett Residence Hall when she first enrolled at Southern Wesleyan.
“StuBe was an amazing place to live and so tight knit. Since moving into this complex, I’ve seen that community grow exponentially with all of those pockets of community in this building,” Darling said. “Thank you so much for this beautiful building. It’s awesome.”
Dr. Charles Joiner recalled his life as a student living on campus, contrasting it with today. Joiner, who was chairman of Southern Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees when plans were being carried out for the new facility and ground was broken, remarked to Voss and other administrators present, “I can’t believe really that all the things you were thinking of have come to pass in one place.”
“What is really appealing in my heart that honoring this institution in this way is larger than life for those students who will be coming here,” said Joiner.
Paul Hilson recalled growing up as the son of President James B. Hilson, who served from 1945 to 1948. He described his father as “a man of boundless energy, always ahead of his time, empowered by the Holy Spirit.”
“I lived where we are standing, in 1947 in a two-story home, Besse Cottage, which served as the president’s home,” Paul said.
Paul recalled how, as president, his father built four buildings, including Childs Hall, which still stands on the Central campus and will someday be renovated. Also, President Hilson was able to talk the military into giving the college two prefabricated buildings – one to be used for the cafeteria and the other, nicknamed “Vetville,” for on-campus housing.
Rev. Ken Dill, associate vice president for spiritual life and university chaplain, led in a litany of dedication expressing thanks for those who will “mentor, lead and invest” in students as part of this living and learning community and expressed appreciation to the Joiner and Hilson families for their decades of dedicated service to Southern Wesleyan.