Texas Christian University held a dedication ceremony Friday, Dec. 7, marking the completion of a major expansion and renovation of the Dee J. Kelly Alumni & Visitors Center. A dedication and open house were held to honor the late Dee J. Kelly, a distinguished TCU alumnus and legal titan in Fort Worth, and to unveil the center, which nearly doubled in size.
When the Kelly Center first opened in 1996, the Burnett Foundation and Sid W. Richardson Foundation joined forces to make a naming gift to honor Kelly. At that time, TCU’s alumni population numbered about 56,000, and only 80 events and meetings were held at the center annually. In 2018 there are 90,700 living TCU alumni and each year about 2,650 new alumni are added. In the 2016 academic year alone, 1,050 events and meetings were held in the Kelly Center; about 250 more were turned away for lack of space.
As usage of the building increased, Kelly saw the need for expansion and updates, and was the first to champion the effort. A business and civic leader and longtime TCU Trustee, he made the initial lead gift to support expansion of the center before his death in 2015. The Kelly family, including wife, Janice, and children, Dee J. Kelly Jr.; Cindy Kelly Barnes; and Craig Kelly, made the capstone gift to complete the fundraising campaign for the project. Chancellor Victor J. Boschini Jr. announced these gifts totaled $4 million, the largest commitments in support of the project.
The $12.5 million expansion and renovation project began in January 2017 and was funded with private gifts. New amenities include additional meeting spaces for smaller gatherings; updated electronic features for group presentations; new dining areas; a large, covered outdoor entertaining space; and an impressive new entrance and lobby. Alumni relations staff have moved to a new second story that provides light-filled meeting spaces and offices as well as ample storage.
Kelly made significant contributions to TCU. He was a member of the TCU Board of Trustees for 32 years, served on the board’s executive committee, and was co-chair of The Next Frontier Campaign. His dedication to the university was recognized when he was named Distinguished Alumnus in 1982. “Although Dee never walked on water, or claimed to, or tried to as far as I know, he is unforgettable,” Dr. William E. Tucker, Chancellor Emeritus, said at his funeral.
Kelly served on the boards of numerous institutions and foundations, and received accolades for his contributions to Fort Worth’s civic and business communities. He was named “Business Executive of the Year,” and elected to the Business Hall of Fame, in 1993; received the Horatio Alger Award in 1995; was honored with the Blackstone Award from the Tarrant County Bar Association in 1997; and received the Outstanding Citizen Award, or Golden Deeds Award, from the Exchange Club of Fort Worth in 2001. He also received George Washington University’s Distinguished Achievement Award in 2001, and the Law School Learning Center at that university was renamed the Dee J. Kelly Law Learning Center in his honor last year.
CannonDesign was the design architect on the project, while Hahnfeld Hoffer Stanford the architect of record. Builder was Linbeck Group LLC.