NGU News

NGU Hosts Dedication Celebration for Renovated Plaster Free Enterprise Center

Posted on: April 12, 2024
By Billy Cannada,

Tigerville, SC—North Greenville University (NGU) celebrated the transformation of one of the institution’s most historic buildings on Friday morning. 

Community members and elected officials joined NGU students, faculty, staff, and administrators for a dedication celebration at the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center on the university’s Tigerville campus. 

“This is a place that has been filled with joy, gratitude and opportunity for 132 years now,” said NGU President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr. “Today, we are celebrating that heritage and legacy of bringing Christ-first education to students whom we have launched into the world to be transformational leaders for church and society.” 

Formerly known as the Donnan Administration Building, which was first dedicated in 1957, the Plaster Center now serves as the home of NGU’s College of Business and Entrepreneurship (COBE). It features four high-tech classrooms, a multi-purpose space, and 18 faculty offices for the College of Business and Entrepreneurship, which is NGU’s largest academic unit, with more than 500 enrolled students in its bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. 

“This has been a herculean undertaking, but more important than the building is the mission,” said Dr. John Duncan, dean of NGU’s College of Business and Entrepreneurship. “There is a purpose to business that we try to help our students understand. That purpose is to create goods and services that lead to human flourishing. It’s about imitating our Creator by being creative and productive. We can love our neighbors through productivity, trade, and commerce. We want to train our students to be innovative thinkers and entrepreneurial problem solvers.” 

The center carries the name of Robert W. Plaster, who founded more than 500 individual corporations across several industries. The Robert W. Plaster Foundation now carries on Plaster’s vision, helping academic institutions provide affordable college education to students in need of opportunity. 

“For our first project in the state of South Carolina, this is really nice,” said Jason Hannasch, Executive Director of the Robert W. Plaster Foundation. “All of this is physical evidence of God’s blessings. We are blessed to live and work in a nation where free enterprise is promoted, and where people can come together to create opportunities for students, now and in the future, to be equipped for success. Congratulations to the faculty and students. This is all for you, and we can’t wait to see what you accomplish with it.” 

Inside, the building now features the Murphee C. Donnan Student Commons, named for a Greer, SC, native who was the college’s first president. The commons offers collaboration and meeting spaces for students and houses a historic mosaic that is original to the 1955 structure. The mural contains 100,000 pieces of tile and glass, telling a story of the school’s history. During Donnan’s tenure, North Greenville grew from 12 acres to a college campus of nearly 800 acres, a student enrollment of more than 500, and about 30 faculty. 

The building also includes the Donald E. Ward Executive Suite, located on the north side of the upper level of the Plaster Center. The suite includes offices for NGU’s president, executive vice president, provost/dean of the university faculty, chief financial officer, and university general counsel. The suite is named for Donald E. Ward, a 1958 graduate of North Greenville, who was a longtime supporter of the school and former board member. His daughter, Kay Ward Powers, a 1975 graduate of North Greenville, delivered remarks at the dedication. 

“He often said he would have never become the man he was had it not been for North Greenville,” Powers said. “He deeply valued education and always pushed us to do our best and be our best. His appreciation and love for this school became part of his legacy and a tradition in our family. We are deeply grateful to God for what he is doing at this exceptional university.” 

The Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center renovation was designed by Greenville’s Equip Studio and was managed by Jones Lang Lasalle Americas. Hood Construction provided general contractor services for the project.  

NGU Student Body President Jacob Auton said the new facility, which opened early in the spring semester, provides a valuable resource for students on the Tigerville campus. 

“I’ve had a class in here. I’ve seen students develop flourishing relationships inside this building. I’ve seen students striving for academic excellence. This building provides all sorts of opportunities for us to thrive as a community and in academics for the glory of God,” Auton said. “I cannot wait to see how the Lord will use this light on a hill for his glory in the years to come.” 

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