South Plains College to host building dedication

South Plains College (Source: KCBD Photo)
South Plains College (Source: KCBD Photo)
Published: Aug. 26, 2022 at 10:11 AM CDT
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LEVELLAND, Texas (PRESS RELEASE) - South Plains College will host the Grand Opening and Dedication of the Wilburn and Helen Wheeler Science Center at 10 a.m. on Sept 9 in the Helen DeVitt Jones Student Learning Center.

An open house and tours will follow the ceremony and ribbon cutting.

Through their foundation, the William R. and Sandra L. Wheeler Charitable Foundation, the Wheelers pledged $7,000,000 toward the expansion and renovation of the Science Building on the Levelland Campus. In recognition of this support, the SPC Board of Regents approved renaming the building the Wilburn and Helen Wheeler Science Center in honor of Bill Wheeler’s parents.

A Levelland native and Distinguished Alumnus of SPC, Bill Wheeler fondly reflects on his childhood. Levelland was a friendly, safe place to grow up. Wilburn Wheeler, his father, and Helen Wheeler had moved to Levelland in 1946 after his father completed his service in World War II. The elder Wheeler became the band director for Levelland High School.

Bill Wheeler says the residents of Hockley County created an anchor for the community in establishing South Plains College that is similar to the impact that Texas Tech University has as the hub of West Texas. The growth of both institutions continues to bring jobs and business opportunities to this region.

“What I’m doing with the Science Center is a ‘Thank You South Plains College,’” he said.

The creation of South Plains College in 1957 was a lifesaver for the Wheeler family. Wilburn Wheeler approached then SPC president Dr. Thomas Spencer about a job at the college. Wilburn Wheeler had graduated from Texas Tech University, where he had majored in mathematics and received his master’s degree in education.

Dr. Spencer asked Wilburn Wheeler to join the College’s original 19 faculty members to start the college and gave him the opportunity to go back to school and earn a Master’s degree in mathematics while working for the college. He was also asked to start the band program. The band played at the basketball games, as accompaniment to the Tex-Ann Drill Team, as well as accompaniment to the Texettes choral group, and on other occasions. To recruit students for the band, free books were awarded to all band members. The band grew to more than 60 members. He also taught a band course in the evenings for adults in the community.

While at SPC, Wilburn Wheeler served as the chairman of the college’s Math Department from 1964 to 1974 and was named the recipient of the Levelland First National Bank’s fourth annual Excellence in Teaching award. Helen Wheeler, after driving a school bus for the public schools, came to work at SPC as a librarian’s assistant.

The Wilburn and Helen Wheeler Science Center has been made possible through the generous support of The William R. and Sandra L. Wheeler Charitable Foundation, The Helen Jones Foundation, Inc., and The Montgomery Family Foundation.

For more information, contact Executive Director of Marketing and Communications Dane Dewbre at (806) 716-2210 or email ddewbre@southplainscollege.edu.