Seth and Hazel Macon make Welcome Center donation

On Oct. 5, at the annual President’s dinner, trustee emeritus Seth Macon ’40 and his wife, Hazel Monsees Macon ’41, announced their commitment to donate $1.6 million toward the construction of a new welcome center on campus.

“With all the traffic by the front of the campus, there is a need to improve the view, make the front of the campus more attractive and more interesting – like the college really is,” Seth Macon said at the President’s dinner.

The proposed welcome center will also house new facilities for the offices of advancement, communications and marketing, and alumni relations.

“All three of these important efforts should be better coordinated,” Macon said. “We believe the proposed welcome center can improve the effectiveness of these groups as they work closer together on campus.”

Macon also cited the need for more parking near Dana Auditorium and the Armfield Athletic Center as a reason for the new construction project.

The new welcome center will be built according to specifications outlined in the campus master plan.

“While our facilities here (in Quaker Village) are nice, the long-range strategic plan calls for our offices to come back on campus,” said Mike Poston, vice president for advancement.

A program committee including representatives from IT&S and the Buildings and Grounds committee will make recommendations to the administration and trustees about the specific location, design, schedule, and budget of the new welcome center. President Kent Chabotar and the board of trustees must approve these recommendations before the construction project can begin.

“The date depends on when the college can raise the $3-5 million beyond the generous Macon gift to actually build the building,” President Chabotar said in an e-mail interview. “A rule of thumb is that you do not do final design work and especially start construction until 100 percent of the funds needed are pledged and, of that 100 percent pledged, at least 75 percent has been received in cash.”

The Macons initially contributed $140,000 to start a construction fund with the hopes that others would donate as well. An additional $1.5 million is established in a charitable remainder trust, which will go toward the college endowment if enough money is raised from other sources to cover the expenses of the welcome center construction.

In honor of the Macons’ generosity, the college also announced the formation of the Macon Society at the President’s dinner, recognizing donors who have contributed $1 million or more to Guilford over the course of their lifetime.

“We realized that some folks had been generous to Guilford over many years and that while any one gift was not large, their cumulative giving was,” Chabotar said. “We wanted to recognize that long-term loyalty.”

While plans for the welcome center have not been finalized, Macon envisions a two-story building located between Dana Auditorium and Friendly Ave., necessitating the destruction of the International Center and the Alumni House.

“Considering all of (the uses of a welcome center), I’m so enthusiastic about the potential effectiveness of this new facility, that I think it should be built sooner rather than later,” Macon said.