Berkeley Preparatory School is the benefactor of major donations that will fund the construction of a 75,000-square-foot arts and science building on its Town 'N Country campus.
More than $4 million of the total undisclosed amount is a gift from Bob Gries Jr., president of Gries Investment Funds
and the former owner of the Tampa Bay Storm arena football team. Other significant donations are from Dan Doyle, Jr, president of DEX Imaging
, and members of Doyle's family.
"It's about our children. Our children are our future," says Gries, whose daughter is a student at Berkeley Prep. "I believe this is a very strong statement that Berkeley is a wonderful and outstanding institution. This is an opportunity to take an exceptional school to the next level to become one of the finest educational institutions in the country."
School officials say they hope to open the Gries Center for the Arts and Sciences by the start of the 2015-16 school year. Berkeley Prep
is a private school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, and is located at 4811 Kelly Road.
Funding for the center is nearly 75 percent complete, says school spokesman Jeremy Canody. The recent donations will provide the center with an endowment fund as well as help with construction, he says.
The center will offer state-of-the-art technology and opportunities for students to work independently and in groups. There will be college-level laboratory space, performance studios, an art gallery, recital hall, study areas and meeting areas.
"This building will have math, science and arts under the same roof," says Nicole Ackerson, chairwoman of the science department. "I can interact with those departments in a way that I haven't been able to before, and find out where we can collaborate to teach children in new, interdisciplinary ways."
The arts and science center is part of a master plan to address future needs of faculty and its 1,300 students. The plan is supported with a $50 million capital campaign, which already has funded the Straz Family Field House and the Berkeley Cafe, a state-of-the-art dining facility. In addition, the funds have paid for campus infrastructure improvements to the Touchton Family Clock Tower and the surrounding Quad.
Above and Beyond: The Campaign for Berkeley Preparatory School is the largest fund raising effort in the school's history.
Writer: Kathy Steele
Sources: Jeremy Canody, Berkeley Prep; Bob Gries, Jr., Gries Investment Funds