‘Inspiring vision’: Griffin Center officially opens

Robert Griffin said he doesn’t believe anyone ever thought USI would grow to what it is today.

“(USI) has been so well done,” the former chair of the USI Foundation Board of Directors said. “We’ve been blessed with three great presidents.”

Griffin added to the growth of the university with the newly opened Griffin Center.

He was approached about two years ago and asked if he and his wife Judy, would consider making a donation to Campaign USI: Elevating Excellence.

Their donation to the campaign funded the construction of the center.

The Griffin Center is meant for meetings and conferences that are held on campus, including Board of Trustees and Foundation meetings.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony, President Linda Bennett said the center was a “significant addition to the university campus.”

Bennett said the university has enjoyed a high level of involvement with the community since it began 50 years ago.

She said the gift from Griffin and his family was a prime example of that involvement.

“(The center) will stand for generations as a sign of (Griffin’s) belief in higher education as lived out on this campus,” Bennett said, “as a measure of how essential private gifts are to USI and of the importance of community engagement.”

Griffin said he thought he should be a generous as he could considering the great people associated with the university and the great job it has done in the community.

“It would be a center with no state funding,” he said. “It was either going to be privately funded or it wasn’t going to be.”

The 12,700 square-foot building overlooks Reflection Lake toward the university and includes the Grand Hall which can accommodate over 130 people.

“I insisted on a location that gave a view of the university and the life of the university,” Griffin said.

He said he hopes it will be an “inspiring vision”  during meetings and decision-making opportunities that take place in the center.

“I hope they’ll be inspired to put the university and its students in a prime position,” he said.

The center was also built with the community around the university in mind.

Griffin said he thinks the support the university receives from the community is remarkable.

Teachers and students are often actively involved in the community on different boards or projects, he said.

“When they retire they stay here. They don’t move on to something else,” Griffin said. “It’s a great partnership between the community and USI.”