The lecture hall on the second floor of the Campus Center has been renamed in honor of R. J. Wills, chairman of Pulaski Technical College Foundation's Board of Directors.
The lecture hall will be officially called the R.J. Wills Lecture Hall.
Mr. Wills, 78, has been a member of the Foundation Board of Directors since July 2003 and has served as chairman for the past two years.
The surprise announcement was made Friday night during the Salute to R.J. Wills Tribute Dinner in the Pulaski Technical College Campus Center Grand Hall. Lettering has been added to the outside of the lecture hall, which is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and seats more than 200 people.
Mr. Wills received a standing ovation from the 300 people attending the $100-a-plate dinner in his honor to raise money for the Campus Center and Library Expansion Building Campaign. That campaign, which Mr. Wills spearheaded, has raised nearly $4 million toward the costs of renovating and expanding the Ottenheimer Library and building the 93,000-square-foot Campus Center. The library was dedicated Sept. 1, and the Campus Center was dedicated Sept. 28.
"Those of you who know me know I'm not a sentimental type," said Mr. Wills, who attended the dinner with his wife, Mary Janelle, and their daughter Dr. Pamela Janelle Wills. "But I am truly honored. I'm truly blessed, and the fact that you cared enough to come spend your Friday night with me means the world to me. I love you all."
The event raised more than $100,000, including a gift of $20,000 from the Bank of America, and a gift of $40,000 from the Tenenbaum Company, where Mr. Wills worked from 1982 to 2004 as chief financial officer.
North Little Rock mayor Patrick Hays also issued a proclamation that proclaimed Nov. 3, 2006 as "R.J. Wills Day."
Mr. Wills praised the work of the college and those who have contributed to its success.
"Every one of the 8,500 students who go to school here has a story," Mr. Wills said. "They're here because they want to be. They want to make a difference in their lives, and they're doing it. And each of you is helping make a difference in the lives of these 8,500 students. The point is that we each give a little something to give someone have a second chance."
Joyce Taylor, executive director of the Pulaski Technical College foundation, praised Mr. Wills for his guidance.
"As with all non-profits, as with private corporations, strong and effective leadership is essential," Taylor said. "R.J. Wills has been an absolutely essential ingredient to Pulaski Technical College Foundation's success. His hard work as a fundraiser makes a real difference, and his ability to motivate and inspire others to aim high and accomplish objectives has created great results."