Originally created 06/13/06

Paine names building for alum



A man who family members say dedicated his life to achievement now has his name on a Paine College building meant to foster student achievement.

The college officially opened the Mack Gipson Jr. Tutorial Enrichment Center on Monday. Paine President Shirley A.R. Lewis expressed her pleasure in establishing the facility and helping to expand the 65-acre campus.

"First of all, we envision it; then, we try to make it happen," she said.

The new facility includes group tutoring rooms, a computer lab and a conference room. It replaces a tutoring office that outgrew its space in Haygood-Holsey Hall.

The center is part of Dr. Lewis' plan for the campus, which includes housing other support services around the perimeter of Paine. Many of those properties already are owned by the college.

"We would like to be able to be in charge of buildings that are on our periphery because we want to make sure that what is on our periphery is academic or academic support," she said.

Plans call for the conversion of a building adjacent to the tutorial center into a small residence hall, and another facility next to the college's library is expected to be a library archives.

The new tutorial center is named for Paine's 1953 graduate, who was commissioned by NASA to research the "pyramids" of Mars and founded the National Association of Black Geologists and Geophysicists. Dr. Gipson was the first black student to earn a doctorate in geology from the University of Chicago.

"He was always saying any child can learn if you give them a chance," said his widow, Alma Gipson.

Stuffed in her wallet between family pictures, she still carries with her a paper with words he frequently passed on to others when speaking to groups.

"'Set your standards of conduct and hold on to them,'" she read. "'It's all right to be different.'"

Mrs. Gipson said her husband is likely looking down smiling with the naming of the facility.

"It's a beautiful remembrance because of how he felt about education," said his daughter, Deborah Gipson.

Monday's ribbon-cutting took place in time for students enrolled in summer classes to take advantage of the new facility. Today is the first day of summer school.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.