West Virginia State to Host Dedication and Opening of new Walker Convocation Center

Contact: Kimberly Osborne
(304) 766-3363
Feb. 27, 2014
West Virginia State to Host Dedication and Opening of new Walker Convocation Center

INSTITUTE, W.Va. – A dedication and opening ceremony has been set for Friday, Feb. 28, for the new D. Stephen and Diane H. Walker Convocation Center at West Virginia State University (WVSU).

 “This is truly a historic event for West Virginia State University,” said President Brian O. Hemphill. “Fleming Hall was built in 1941 and served the University well for 70 years, but it was in need of renovation to bring it up-to-date with the standards that today’s student-athletes expect. With the Walker Convocation Center, we are now more than able to provide premier academic as well as athletic and training space for our students.”

The Convocation Center is named in honor of longtime Kanawha Valley civic leaders D. Stephen and Diane H. Walker.

“This Convocation Center is really a symbol of the future of this school. Having a place like the Convocation Center in today’s education system gives us a good athletic facility, a place for large gatherings, and a place that we can all be proud of, and my wife, Diane, and I are proud to have our name associated with it, very much so,” said D. Stephen Walker.

Construction on the $19 million expanded academic and athletic space began in 2012 after the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, then-Governor Joe Manchin and the West Virginia Economic Development Authority approved the issuance of Lottery Revenue Bonds to support capital improvement projects located at higher education institutions across the state. The largest part of the WVSU renovation and expansion project – the Walker Convocation Center – will feature a 1,350-seat-arena, and an athletic court that will be home to men’s and women’s basketball as well as volleyball. The renovations of the academic areas in Fleming Hall enable students pursuing Health and Human Performance degrees to learn using state-of-the-art technology in the classroom.

Supported by the National Basketball Association, the lobby of the Convocation Center will pay tribute to legendary WVSU basketball player Earl Lloyd, the first African-American to play in a NBA game. A statue of Lloyd will be located in the lobby and was supported by the owner of the Harlem Globetrotters, Mannie Jackson. Artist Brian Hanlon of Hanlon Sculpture Studio created the bronze statue.

“I am honored to be a part of this great day celebrating Earl Lloyd and his profound impact on breaking the color barrier in the NBA,” said Hanlon, who is the official sculptor for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “Earl is the epitome of a basketball pioneer and I hope this monument inspires and educates visitors on his importance to the game of basketball.”

A private, invitation-only dedication will take place on Friday, Feb. 28, to give distinguished supporters of the Convocation Center a chance to tour the facility.

On Saturday, March 1, the public will have a chance to view the Convocation Center as both the Yellow Jackets men’s and women’s basketball teams will be in action for the first time on the center’s new athletic court. The Lady Yellow Jackets tip off at 2 p.m. followed by the men at 4 p.m.

Follow West Virginia State University on Facebook and Twitter @WVStateU.
West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multi-generational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service, and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
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