CHAMPAIGN — The newly renovated Parkland College gym will be renamed for a longtime supporter of the community college.
The gym complex will be called the Donald C. Dodds Jr. Athletic Center. Dodds has been president of the Parkland College Foundation's board of directors since 1994, and he served on the college's board of trustees from 1970 to 1984. He's also made significant financial contributions to the college.
"I think it's a magnificent institution," Dodds said of Parkland, adding that the recognition in the gym's name "is fantastic."
"It's the neatest thing in the world to have a class of 25 or 35 rather than 600, and be able to get that kind of knowledge and do it at half price," he said. "I have a great appreciation for Parkland and for the administration out there and the educators. They are wonderful."
Carl Meyer, executive director of the Parkland College Foundation, said the Dodds family has had a significant impact on the community. He noted Dodds Park, adjacent to Parkland, was named for Donald Dodds' father. Dodds family members have been strong supporters of the Champaign Park District, as well as numerous other volunteer and philanthropic efforts in the community.
Meyer has known Dodds since the 1970s, through Dodds' travel business, which arranged sports tours to bowl games for the University of Illinois and other schools.
"He's had a tremendous interest in Parkland for many years, and he believes in the role that Parkland has in the community," Meyer said. "He's supported it financially and with his efforts. He's a tireless worker as it relates to activities that the foundation conducts. It's been a real pleasure to work with him.
"(Because of) his loyalty and the time commitment he's made to Parkland, as well as his resources, he deserved this naming," he added. "It wasn't a gift."
Jim Ayers, chairman of the Parkland Board of Trustees, agreed, saying the naming is an appropriate recognition for Dodds' service to Parkland and the community.
"Donald and his family have been historically great supporters of Parkland," Ayers said.