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Waneks make $10M gift to HPU

Ron Wanek, left, AshleyRon Wanek, left, Ashley Furniture Inds., and Joyce Wanek with High Point University President Nido Qubein. HPU is the recipient of an unrestricted $10 million gift from the Ronald and Joyce Wanek Foundation.
HIGH POINT - The Ronald and Joyce Wanek Foundation has made a $10 million gift to High Point University here, the foundation's largest donation since its inception 15 years ago.
     The donation by the foundation, established by Ron Wanek, chairman of industry giant Ashley Furniture Inds., and wife, Joyce, is unrestricted, Ron Wanek said, adding that he's sure it will be put to good use.
     "I've been coming to High Point for over 40 years," Wanek told Furniture/Today. "I know a lot of the students who have graduated from High Point University. I've toured the (campus) years ago. But what's happened in the last six years - the way the university has developed into such a class organization, is really unbelievable."
     In a release from HPU, Wanek praised the school for its "educational efforts in entrepreneurship, technology, business and most importantly, the free enterprise system."
     "Ron firmly believes colleges that accurately teach the fundaments of capital markets and capitalism and also provide an understanding of the opportunities of the free enterprise system with be graduating our future leaders," the release said.
     HPU said it has tripled its enrollment to 4,300 and quadrupled the size of its campus in the past seven years. It's also planning modern facilities for health sciences and pharmacy studies.
     While the gift is the Wanek Foundation's first to the HPU, Ron Wanek has made a statement here before. In 2007, he honored three industry leaders - the late Pat Norton and Louie Blumkin as well as Howard Miskelly - with bronze statues depicting them in uniform from their military days; the Norton sculpture was then given to HPU, where it is displayed near Norton Hall, home to the home furnishings programs on campus.
     Wanek said he has been amazed by HPU's transformation.
     "It's one thing to have a beautiful university, but it's another to have good results," praising its educational effort and emphasis on communication and leadership.
     "The $10 million gift by the Wanek Foundation along with the personal commitments by Ron and Joyce Wanek to enhance educational opportunities at High Point University is a wonderful example of philanthropy and outstanding citizenship," HPU President Nido Qubein said.
     Pam Haynes, a HPU spokesperson, said the college is grateful for the gift and plans to honor the Waneks though the details weren't available.
     The foundation has given to many other causes over the years, including the Mayo Clinic Medical Research Foundation, City of Hope, the American Heart Assn. and the American Cancer Society.
     Many Wisconsin-area people and causes also have received gifts from the foundation and the Waneks, including the American Legion Hall and the Historical Area Society in Winona, Minn., The aquatic centers in Arcadia and Whitehall, Wis.; Arcadia Memorial Park, the Bell Towner Restoration Project in Independence, Wis., and the annual Ashley for the Arts charity event.
     The Waneks also give annual design and engineering scholarships to Wisconsinarea graduating seniors and have donated to the Pontotoc Sport Complex in Mississippi.

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