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New event center taps into the power of storytelling to enrich the community and future students
Janel Shoun-Smith | 615.966.7078 |
“We dedicate the George Shinn Center to the work of Lipscomb University, to the lives of those who will be enriched by it and to the God who invites all of us into his story of creation, redemption and love.”
With those words, Lipscomb University President L. Randolph Lowry formally dedicated the $11 million, 33,000-square-foot George Shinn Center, the latest milestone completed in the $250 million LipscombLEADS initiative, on Oct. 24, 2019.
In an event focused on the power of stories to enrich faith, life, success and education, Lipscomb University celebrated its newest on-campus facility, the George Shinn Center, devoted to training students in the best ways to tell stories effectively, involving the community in the shared stories of our society and the beginnings of a new chapter in the story of prospective students who visit campus looking for the college that is right for them.
“George Shinn has a story. And he wants to spend his life and his wealth helping people live into God’s story,” said Lowry of the man whose $15 million donation made the new center possible.
Shinn, the former owner of the of the Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets, was first introduced to Lipscomb at a 2011 event to benefit the Lipscomb Athletics department. At that time, “it was clear he wanted to do good in his adopted city,” said Lowry.
Shinn founded the George Shinn Foundation and regularly uses his Franklin, Tennessee, property, outfitted with a barn full of classic cars, as a venue to raise money. His various humanitarian efforts have included funding a medical clinic in Haiti, rebuilding homes in post-Katrina New Orleans, assisting needy families during the Christmas season and establishing a Tennessee retreat center for ministers and missionaries.
At the center’s dedication ceremony, Shinn shared his personal story of faith, describing how he came full circle to embrace his mother gave him when he was just a child: “If you have the courage to get down on your knees and ask God for help, it will all work out.”
Now the facility Shinn has funded at Lipscomb will spur many future generations to craft and tell their own stories. On the main floor, the center includes a Welcome Center space that tell the Lipscomb story through colorful exhibits on Lipscomb’s history, academics, campus life, career placement and the benefits of learning in the city of Nashville.
“Every single prospective student who comes to this university will come to that Welcome Center. They will walk down those stairs wondering what their story is and how it will be affected by this community,” said Lowry, gesturing to the space behind the crowd gathered in the Shinn lobby.
Rylee Russell, a Lipscomb student and admission tour guide, highlighted the impact the Welcome Center will have on the future of Lipscomb: “I can tell you for a fact that the first few moments on a college campus are a really important part of the admissions process. Those first few moments have the ability to change the trajectory of a person’s life,” she said.
The second floor of the center includes a multi-use event hall that can seat up to 1,000 people. “Hundreds of thousands” of people will meet in this hall over the coming years, said Lowry, noting that more than 150,000 people visit the Lipscomb campus each year for some type of activity.
“They come and are invited into a story and then take part of that story away with them,” he said.
According to Walt Leaver, vice president of university relations, 21 events had already been held in the Shinn Center between its opening in September and the October dedication and 4,500 people had already come through its doors in that time.
Finally, the rest of the main floor is filled out with collaborative classroom and studio space for the George Shinn College of Entertainment & the Arts.
The university-run creative production house, CEA Studios, serving as a resource for the Nashville community and a creative incubator for students and faculty is housed in a complex including a collaborative gathering space and studios in film, music recording, animation and graphic design
CEA Studios provides an organizational umbrella for the four creative areas and will utilize students, staff and faculty who hail from companies such as Disney and VeggieTales, in the production process, said Mike Fernandez, dean of the college.
“In a time when the role of the church to shape culture is diminished, it is the call of the artists to step in to the gap and tell stories that will shape culture and impact lives,” Fernandez said at the ceremony, which concluded with Lipscomb students singing a song from the university’s fall 2019 production titled Bright Star.
“Use this space and the faculty and resources you have to tell stories that will move hearts and minds for generations to come,” Fernandez said. “My hope is that this space will be a beacon of light and that your creative work will be a bright star to the world.”