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New campus residence named Watson Family hall
West Palm Beach resident Karl H. Watson and his son, Karl H. Watson Jr. of Houston, Texas, have announced that their family will donate $2.5 million to Palm Beach Atlantic University. The Watsons have a more than 30-year history with the University, which will name its newly opened, 154-room student residence Watson Family Hall.
The gift will endow two significant programs that are especially meaningful to the Watson family: the Center for Biblical Leadership (CBL) and PBA Athletics.
Karl Watson Sr. has served as a PBA trustee since 1997 and received the University’s American Free Enterprise Medal in 2007 for his community involvement and civic service. He is the retired president and chief operating officer for Rinker Materials Corporation, ranked among the world’s top 10 producers of concrete block and ready-mix concrete. A pioneer in his field, he received numerous industry awards for his experience and service to the profession. He was inducted into the M. E. Rinker Sr. School of Construction Management Hall of Fame at the University of Florida in 2014. Over the years, he has served as a board member for companies and organizations that include the National Concrete Ready Mix Association; the Norton Museum of Art; the Richard and Pat Johnson PBC History Museum; Student ACES; Flagler National Bank; Fidelity Federal Bank and Trust; and as chairman of the board of West Palm Beach’s Urban Youth Impact. His wife, Faith, served on the University’s Women of Distinction committee.
Karl Watson Jr. is a 1987 Palm Beach Atlantic graduate who joined the university’s board of trustees in January 2020. He has more than 30 years of global experience in the construction materials industry, including three years in Australia as CEO of CSR/Rinker, and president of Cemex USA where he additionally had global responsibility for the ready mix concrete product line. Today he is the chief executive officer of Forterra, Inc., the largest manufacturer of concrete and ductile iron pipe in the United States.
“A donation of this magnitude from a family that has been a cornerstone of our university’s leadership, growth and success for 30 years has a profound impact on the school’s future,” said PBA President Dr. Debra Schwinn. “On behalf of the entire PBA community, I want to thank the entire Watson family for their abiding generosity that has been transformative for PBA. Their continued commitment to our school positions us so well for the next generation of students, amplifies our voice in the community and significantly advances our mission.”
CBL is the University’s sixth Center of Excellence, established to confront a leadership crisis that exists today across business and ministry sectors in North America and around the globe. Its mission is to develop and support leaders who seek to integrate biblical truth and spiritual wisdom into today’s leadership best practices. CBL is being used as a key strategic driver of leadership development across the entire university.
The Watsons’ generosity also will endow an administrative supplement for the position of athletic director. Additionally, their gift will fund improvements to the workout room in the Greene Complex, adding new exercise equipment and a fresh, inspiring look for the gym.
“We are eager to see the Watson family name rise on our beautiful new building,” President Schwinn added. “Naming the residence hall for them is a meaningful way for PBA to commemorate the endowments to our two programs and fund the position of Athletic Director, which is a vital role on the President’s Cabinet.”
“Palm Beach Atlantic University is a treasure to our family and to the Palm Beaches,” said Karl Watson Sr. “We are delighted to support this world-class university so that more graduates, prepared with a firm Christian worldview, will be ready to positively impact the Palm Beaches, our state, nation and the world. We need them now more than ever.”
Another motivation for the gift was to serve as a challenge to the University’s alumni and friends to step forward at this time and contribute to the many important programs at PBA until the Watson’s gift is matched, dollar for dollar.
“I know the PBA community can rally to match our gift, and now is the time to take that step,” said Karl Watson Jr. “PBA forever altered the trajectory of my life and I have been blessed because of it. We are humbled to give back to this great university that means so much to our family. The gifts that result from our challenge will support student scholarships so the next generation can get the same foundation I was blessed to receive. We believe amazing things will happen if we all pay it forward together.”
The Watson family’s children, Stephanie Tucker Redd, Stacey Tucker Arlosoroff and Alan Tucker, are all lifetime residents of Palm Beach County where they worked and raised their own families. Daughter Karlyn Sullivan supports the Admissions Office in outreach to home-school families. Daughter Kendra Pearson, along with her husband, Dan, serve as members of the University’s Parents Council. Two of their children, Brooke and Danny Pearson, are currently Palm Beach Atlantic students.
Watson Family Hall is an eight-story campus residence at the corner of Pembroke Place and South Dixie Highway. Each of the one- and two-bedroom units has a full kitchen and increased safety and security features based on a combination of intentional architectural design and leading-edge technology.
A community room, for activities that encourage camaraderie and spiritual growth, as well as private study areas are included on every floor. Watson Family Hall’s location places residential students close to their classes, faculty offices and campus life. It was built by and in partnership with Hedrick Brothers Construction of West Palm Beach. A spring 2021 ribbon cutting is planned.
Alumni and friends of Palm Beach Atlantic who wish to answer the Watson Family Challenge can make their donations securely online HERE.
“PBA forever altered the trajectory of my life and I have been blessed because of it. We are humbled to give back to this great university that means so much to our family. " Karl Watson Jr.
Alex Furjanic chose PBA because he wanted a school where he could study business and also take ministry classes. He came all the way from Waterloo, Nebraska. “I didn’t know a single person” in the area, he said, “but almost immediately I had three close friends, as I lived with these three guys.”
At Palm Beach Atlantic, and especially in his residence hall, Furjanic found a deep sense of community: “the kind of community that’s formed in the wee hours of the morning, when these guys are just sitting up talking.”
“And I had an RA who cared about me, asked questions and was interested in my life,” he said. “I had people around me that showed genuine care and compassion.”
Chelsea Smith, from Cocoa, Florida, said living on campus allows students to become fully immersed in the PBA culture. The community atmosphere of her residence hall “has been beneficial not only socially, but spiritually as well,” she said. “I have grown so much because of it.”
Smith would agree with the research that shows living on campus helps students succeed in higher levels academically and in their development as young adults. “I would recommend living on campus for as long as you possibly could,” she said.
Roommates Max Alvarez (left), from Palm Harbor, Florida, and Juan Mojica, from Colombia; enjoy their living room/kitchen area in the new residence.