Hance Honors Family, University With Chapel Gift

Surrounded by family and friends Texas Tech University System Chancellor Kent Hance joined system officials as they broke ground on the Kent R. Hance Chapel, a more than $3 million project to be built primarily with funds provided by Hance.

For the 1965 graduate and former faculty member of Texas Tech University, the day’s events commemorated a personal gift made to honor his family and make a difference at his alma mater.

A longtime supporter of Texas Tech, Hance has created student scholarships, endowed faculty chairs, contributed to athletic programs and supported numerous other areas within the institution. For Hance, these gifts continue a tradition of philanthropy that he learned as a child.

“My mother always believed that no matter how much money you had or how little money you had, you should give back, and I’ve followed her advice throughout my life,” said Hance. “I’ve never given money to education or any charity that I didn’t get more out of it than I gave.”

During the ceremony, Hance announced that the chapel’s bridal room had been named in honor of his sisters, Beth Hance Hodges of Amarillo, Texas, and Linda Hance Karagas of Boulder, Colo., who were in attendance.

“My sisters were both older than me, and they always took good care of me,” said Hance. “We remain very close, and this was something I wanted to do to honor them.”

No taxpayer money will be used to construct or operate the all-faiths, non-denominational chapel. Private donations by Hance and others, including the late Margaret Talkington, will be used for construction costs. Revenues generated by the chapel as well as an endowment set up by private donors will be used to sustain operations. When the chapel is completed, Texas Tech University will become the tenth school in the Big 12 Conference to have a chapel on its campus.

Hance expects the chapel will be a popular addition to the campus that will be used by alumni and their families. Already the university has received calls from brides hoping to book their weddings in advance of the chapel’s June 2012 opening.

“We announced the chapel in the paper on a Sunday, and by Wednesday, a student — a young woman — had called and asked to reserve it for August 22, 2012,” said Hance. “And it just thrilled me.”

According to university officials, more than 120 weddings were celebrated on the Texas Tech University campus last year. Hance hopes that when the chapel is complete even more families will choose to celebrate at Texas Tech.

“This university is such a special place for me, just as it is for so many of our alumni,” said Hance. “It’s appropriate that we build a place on campus where our families can celebrate life’s special moments right here.”

The 6,879 square-foot Kent R. Hance Chapel was designed by McKinney York Architects in Austin, Texas. Al York, a principal with the firm, was formerly an assistant professor in the Texas Tech University College of Architecture.

“The overall features of the chapel are going to be beautiful, and it fits perfectly with the Spanish Renaissance architecture our campus is known for,” said Hance, who has been involved with design plans for the building.

Highlights of the structure include a campanario or wall with openings for bells next to the chapel entrance and a colonnade along the building’s south wall, according to Debbie Griffin, senior project manager for Texas Tech’s Facilities Planning and Construction. The chapel’s exterior will feature the campus’ signature Texas Tech brick with carved limestone accents.

Inside, exposed wood beams will support the mission tile roof of the two story hall. On the east and west ends of the building, two rose windows measuring four feet in diameter and featuring geometric stained glass designs will flood the space with natural light. The multi-use facility will include 250 seats that can be configured for a variety of weddings, funerals, memorial services and other events.

Griffin added that plans for the building’s public art installation call for the fabrication of custom doors for the chapel’s main entrance to be designed by an undisclosed artist. Texas Tech sets aside one percent of the total project cost of all building projects over $500,000 to be used for public art. An additional one percent of major construction projects goes to landscaping. Water-wise shrubs, grasses and trees will be planted around the building when it is completed.

The Hance chapel will be located between the southeast corner of the Merket Alumni Center and University Avenue. The Texas Tech University System Board of Regents approved the naming of the Kent R. Hance Chapel at their meeting on May 13 following a long-standing practice of honoring donors who contribute more than half the costs of a new building.

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