Thanks to a $2 million donation from the Wood Family Foundation, Odessa College will have the funds it needs to construct the $40 million Wood Health Sciences Building.
Thursday’s announcement, made in the foyer of the Saulsbury Campus Center, brings the total contribution of the Wood family to $7 million.
The groundbreaking for the four-story, state-of-the-art building is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sept. 1 and is also the kickoff of OC’s 75th anniversary.
The announcement also comes against the backdrop of increasing COVID-19 cases locally and nationally and at a time when the need for healthcare professionals is stronger than ever. Vice President of Advancement Jacqui Gore asked for a moment of silence to remember those who have died from the disease during the past 18 months. Gore also asked that attendees remember healthcare workers “who are fighting the fight each and every day.”
Gore also asked those from the School of Health Sciences to stand and be recognized.
“These individuals are working very hard with our students each and every day, getting them ready to go right to work here in the Permian Basin …,” Gore said.
The gathering was also to celebrate the longstanding partnership and friendship between Odessa College and the Wood family.
“Odessa College’s friendship with the Wood family started with Clay Wood in the late 1970s and early 1980s and has continued with his sons Don and Jack Wood, as well as Brenda Denton, who serves as the executive director of the Wood Family Foundation,” Gore said.
Don and his wife, Tanya, and Denton were among those on hand Thursday.
In addition to establishing and continuing scholarships, the Wood Family Foundation has also helped increase capacity at Odessa College, Gore said. In 2012, the Wood family committed $3 million to name the Wood Math and Science Building, which was under construction at that time, Gore said.
“In December of 2020, they helped Odessa College to launch a $40 million Health Sciences Building capital campaign and … they committed $5 million to name the building the Wood Health Sciences Building. The Wood family support of this project came at a time when our community was experiencing record numbers of COVID cases. Oil prices were low and unemployment was high. This support of this important project not only gave Odessa College hope, but it also gave our community hope,” Gore said.
Gore noted that it “immediately opened doors” with other partners who said they wanted to be part of the project alongside the Wood family.
Only eight months after the Wood family helped OC start the campaign, OC was at 95 percent of the $40 million goal with about $2 million left to raise to cover the bricks and mortar of the building. Thursday’s donation put them over the top.
“… We know that we could not have done this without the Woods; that’s for sure,” Gore added.
Don Wood said the family believes it is crucial to support education.
“We support Odessa and we believe in Odessa College, (President) Dr. (Gregory) Williams and the entire Odessa College team are doing important work and we believe it is imperative that we support that. Supporting education is important for many reasons. Education concerns the lives of students and the lives of students’ families. They can derive a career path and support our workforce, and an education to make your dreams come true,” Wood said.
He added that he appreciated other contributors who have stepped up “significantly” to make the health sciences building a reality.
Odessa College President Gregory Williams said the college is so appreciative of what the Wood family has done and said the college would not be there without them.
Up until Thursday, Williams said the $7 million gift from Mackenzie Scott and Dan Jewett was the largest in the history of OC.
“But I can’t say that anymore. The Wood Family Foundation with their $7 million gift …” now matches the largest gift the college has ever received, Williams said.
“I can’t say thank you enough. You all have been amazing to me, to the college, to the community. The people around this town and the area respect you more than you know. We would not have been able to raise this money without you, your name, your support, your vision during a pandemic saying this is something that’s needed. We’ll put our name on it and we’ll put our money behind it. So thank you, we appreciate you,” Williams said.
Gore said the campaign will continue with Phase II which will go toward equipment, technology and other costs related to the building.
“Those same opportunities are still available,” she said. “We will be launching that campaign in the community here in the coming weeks.”
Following the announcement, Don Wood said they wanted OC to have a full budget.
“We didn’t want them to cut any corners. We wanted a top-notch health sciences building …,” he said.
Tanya Wood said OC can now build the structure to meet their expectations, “the way they had planned originally.”
Asked what Gore’s secret was that she was able to successfully fundraise during a pandemic, Denton said it’s that Gore is so personable.
“She connects with everybody in the community on their level and she’s just sincere. She loves Odessa College and it shows, so it makes you want to work with her and the college,” Denton said.
Don Wood said the important thing is that students are being educated.
“… Odessa College is doing a great job of recruiting students and educating them and they continue to show up” among some of the top 10 colleges in the nation.
“And we’re proud of them, so we want to support (them). They make it easy,” Wood said.