Published: May 22, 2008
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Construction of the Sykes Chapel and Center for Faith and Values, which
will be built in the center of The University of Tampa campus and
promises to further strengthen UT students’ academic and personal
development, will commence this summer, UT President Ronald L. Vaughn
announced Thursday, May 22.
The project, which includes a
250-seat main hall, meeting and meditation rooms, pipe organ, a plaza
and 60-bell musical sculpture/fountain, is being built through a
multi-million dollar lead gift from John H. and Susan Sykes. The total
project is valued at $19.5 million.
“We've been blessed to be
a part of this university for 12 years now,” said John H. Sykes, a
longtime UT benefactor who is the namesake of the John H. Sykes College
of Business. “At the project’s foundation is the development of the
minds and spirit of young people for generations to come.”
Vaughn said he is pleased that the Sykes’ gift can enhance UT’s
educational mission. He added that the Sykes Chapel and Center for
Faith and Values will continue the transformation of UT’s campus and
further enrich the educational environment and experience.
are grateful to the Sykes for their gift that we believe will aid in
students’ own discovery and development processes and support the study
of world religions,” Vaughn said. “Universities have a key opportunity
to support such student development, and now UT will be a model in this
The Chapel/Center is part of UT’s master plan,
which was approved in 1996. “It is exciting to take another step in our
master plan,” Vaughn added.
The planned 12,750 square foot,
65-foot vaulted, east-west oriented facility will be situated north of
North B Street across from Brevard Hall, where old fairgrounds
buildings were recently demolished. The building uses natural light as
a primary design focus and will include architectural elements
constructed of red brick, laminated timber, glass, granite, zinc
roofing and decorative red cherry millwork. The Chapel/Center will
include a main hall, meeting rooms, two meditation rooms, a foyer and
vestibule. It is designed to seat 250 people in moveable seating for
spiritual programs, speaking engagements, seminars, ceremonies,
meetings and concerts.
“Flexibility is crucial to the
building’s design in order to accommodate such a vast range of
programs,” Vaughn said. Construction of the facility is tentatively
scheduled to be completed by late fall 2009.
At present, UT
has 10 student organizations that focus on religious issues and
spiritual development. They include: Arab Student Association; Campus
Crusade for Christ; Catholic Student Organization, Chabad Jewish
Student Union, College Conversations: SPACE; Hillel, Indian Cultural
Association; Intervarsity Christian Fellowship; Muslims Student
Association; and, YoungLife. Extracurricular programming for the chapel
will be coordinated by UT’s Office of Student Engagement and Leadership.
The acoustically-superior building will include two unique accompanying
features – a 45-foot tall, 3,184-pipe custom-built organ, and a 75-foot
outdoor musical sculpture/fountain (see more details, below). Both
features are to be completed after the chapel is constructed.
A chapel that once was located on the third floor of Plant Hall had
been converted to necessary academic office and classroom space.
The Sykes Chapel and Center for Faith and Values will represent the
seventh completely new building on UT’s campus in the past decade. The
architect is Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback and Associates of Atlanta,
and the construction firm will be Peter R. Brown Construction Inc. of
The Pipe Organ
3,184-pipe, 45-foot mechanical action pipe organ will anchor the west
end of the Chapel/Center and, when constructed, will be one of the
largest of its kind in the southern U.S. It will be constructed by the
Dobson Pipe Organ Builders of Lake City, Iowa, and is designed to
complement the architecture. The organ’s horizontal and vertical pipes
– which vary in size – will be made of either wood or tin alloy. The
organ will be housed in a case made of solid American black cherry
wood. “Because of its size, musical quality and the beauty of its
setting, the organ will be one of the most notable organs in the
South,” Vaughn said.
The Musical Sculpture/Fountain
Neither a bell tower, carillon or obelisk, the unique musical sculpture
is a 75-foot lighted structure adorned with 60 bells. The entire
structure is integrated as part of a plaza and water fountain with a
variety of kinds of water flows. “We believe this grand musical
sculpture and fountain will be the first of its kind in the United
States,” Vaughn said.
John H. and Susan Sykes
John H. and Susan Sykes have been longtime benefactors of the
University of Tampa. In 1999 the University acknowledged John H. Sykes
by naming its renowned College of Business in his honor. In 2000, John
and Susan Sykes made another multi-million dollar gift to help build
the Vaughn Center. John H. Sykes is chairman emeritus of Sykes
Enterprises Inc., a Tampa-based information technology company. In 1998
he received an honorary doctorate degree from UT in business and humane
letters. Sykes was a former chairman of the Board of Trustees and is
currently a chair emeritus.