CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — After being open for 72 years, West Texas A&M University’s Hill Chapel is set to undergo renovations after a $1.5 million donation was given to the university from the High Plains Christian Ministries Foundation, officials with WT announced Wednesday.
Renovations are scheduled to begin in the summer of 2023 on the Joseph A. Hill Memorial Chapel, after the donation was announced Wednesday at a press conference inside the chapel.
WT said that the Hill Chapel was named after the University’s second president and is one of few chapels on the campus of a public university in Texas, as it “serves students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community at large.”
“This generous investment by the High Plains Christian Ministries Foundation will restore the chapel as a center for spiritual values and education at WT,” said WT President Walter V. Wendler. “Former WT President Hill unapologetically stood for education and spiritual understanding—purposes still prevalent in this chapel and on our campus. Indeed, these views are consistent with and supportive of the Panhandle’s values as a unique place to live and work.”
Steve Dalrymple, president, CEO and chief legal officer of Baptist Community Services, said that the donation is meant to be “a continuing spiritual gift to WT and its students, faculty, employees and guests.”
“The Hill Chapel’s continued presence on the campus will be a place for those who come through its doors to seek comfort, replenishment and spiritual growth, regardless of one’s spiritual background,” Dalrymple said.
The new renovations will include new exterior doors, repaired stonework and sidewalks, LED lighting, remodeling of rooms on each side of the chancel, extensive landscaping, and will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, WT explained.
The donation will add to an existing endowment for the chapel, which was set up in 2018 by Patsy Cunningham Vaughn in memory of her husband, Dr. Ronald D. Vaughn, a longtime dentist in Guymon, Oklahoma, as the couple were married on August 15, 1959 in the chapel.
“Let it always be remembered that this is a place of worship,” Hill said at the chapel’s dedication on Oct. 21, 1950. “Let everyone who comes here come with … open heart as into the presence of God Himself.”