The newest addition to the College of Education, the Steve and Betsy Palko Building, was named after a current graduate student who donated to the project, marking the largest donation TCU has ever received from an enrolled student. Steffen Palko, 55, graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso in 1971. Now, Palko is a third-year TCU student pursuing his doctorate degree in education.
The decisions to contribute to the College of Education and enroll at TCU were independently made, Palko said.
“I made the decision at the request of Samuel Dietz,” Palko said. “It was a really special deal. I was delighted by the quality of the student body and of the faculty.”
Palko is the former chair of the College of Education Board of Visitors and served eight years as a school board trustee for the Fort Worth Independent School District and as education chairman for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce.
The new Palko Building has three floors with four conference rooms, including the dean’s private conference room, a patio, a lounge area, a number of classrooms and a lecture hall. The entire building has wireless Internet.
Linda Matthews, an administrative assistant in the College of Education, said the department is happy to start the semester in the new building.
“After a year and a half of being in the basement of Tucker with no window, it is so nice to be in our new home,” Matthews said.
Matthews said the building’s classrooms were designed with the help of the professors who will teach there.
“The professors had input on what their rooms would look like,” Matthews said. “The rooms are set up the same way (class)rooms would be set up in the real world. They get that real world experience in these classrooms. It’s very helpful.”
Samuel Dietz, dean of the College of Education, said he met Palko in 2000.
“When I first met him, people told me, ‘Whenever you need someone to help out, this is the guy to go to,'” Deitz said. “He’s constantly been involved on campus with numerous projects. When it came time to do something new, he came forward.”
One reason for the expansion of the building was it didn’t meet the needs of the growing industry, Palko said.
The exact amount of money for the donation could not be disclosed, Dietz and Palko said.
The 24,600 square-foot building is attached to the Bailey Building by a glass atrium. A dedication ceremony for the new complex is scheduled for Sept. 15. Chancellor Victor Boschini and Palko are scheduled to attend.