York College receives $50K challenge gift for Freeman Center renovations

York resident Don Freeman, owner of Agri-Products, has committed to a $50,000 matching gift to York College for renovations to the Freeman Center, the college gymnasium.

The Freeman Center was named for Freeman’s parents, Dick and Lena Freeman, who provided the lead gift of $50,000 for the building. The Freeman Center was dedicated in May 1974 and has been an integral part of campus ever since.

Currently the facility is used for athletic team practices and games, physical education classes, intramural sports, and the college’s daily chapel program.

Don Freeman, owner, Agri-Products
Don Freeman, owner, Agri-Products

Freeman’s gift and the matching funds that will accompany it from other individuals will provide an internal face-lift for the building: resurfacing walls and ceilings, painting, and new carpet. It will also be used for renovation of some public spaces such as the restrooms.

Athletic Director Jared Stark is enthusiastic about the gift, which he describes as “overwhelmingly generous.”

“I appreciate that this investment is being made in our student-athlete experience. These renovations will impact not only our students, but also our visitors. I am thankful for everyone who will contribute to this effort,” Stark says.

The Freeman Center, 10th and Delaware
The Freeman Center

A longtime York resident, Freeman’s relationship with York College was enhanced by his regular use of the prayer chapel on campus. When his wife, Beverly, passed away seven years ago, the quiet chapel became his place of refuge. “That strengthened my commitment to York College,” he says. He met with then-President Dr. Wayne Baker, who impressed upon him the need for further investment in YC from the community.

Freeman says he has been pleased to see the college’s growth in recent years and wants to see continued updating of the campus to support it. His parents’ motivation for giving was similar. “They realized York College was an asset to the community and it needed to grow, needed to upgrade its facilities,” he says, noting that their gift and the resulting building have been important for attracting students.

Dick Freeman owned the York Foundry, which he passed on to his son when he retired. In 1979 Don sold the company, but continued to manage it for 11 years. He “retired” for six months, then went to work at Agri-Products, the York-based company that innovates and sells farm equipment, such as tillage implements and tractor mounted tanks. He purchased the company in 1994. “It’s a pleasure to be able to make your own mistakes, and make your own pride,” he says. “I’ve been blessed with good employees and the ag economy has been robust.”

Freeman Center, home of YC Panther Basketball
The Freeman Center, home of YC Panther Basketball

More than simply investing in the York community, Freeman says that he believes supporting education is important to the state of Nebraska. He is concerned about “brain drain,” young graduates leaving the state, and small towns such as York, to make a living elsewhere.

“I think York College is a good option for education both for local students and for students throughout the United States,” he says.

Brent Magner, VP Advancement
Brent Magner
VP Advancement

“Don has been a great investor in York College, but this challenge has special meaning and gives a special spark for our Freeman Center renovations,” says Brent Magner, vice president for advancement. “He will match every gift given up to $50,000. His challenge is to everyone who has enjoyed this building for nearly 40 years. For everyone who has memories in the Freeman Center, the time is right to come alongside Don and help him prep it for the next generation of YC Panthers.”

To take advantage of Freeman's matching gift opportunity, give online (type "Freeman" in the special instructions field) or contact the Advancement Office.

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