Millsaps College on Thursday announced a $4 million gift from the Selby & Richard McRae Foundation toward a campaign to renovate the Christian Center on campus.

The Christian Center, a beloved fixture on the Millsaps campus since its construction in the 1950s, is scheduled for a transformative renovation project that will establish new classrooms and office space for the Humanities division, a new 175-seat lecture hall, and a new chapel and center for the chaplaincy on campus, the college said in a press release.

Upon completion, the building will be rededicated as the Selby and Richard McRae Christian Center, Millsaps said.

The press release noted that the Selby & Richard McRae Foundation was established in 1965 to support the arts, education, and social service organizations in central Mississippi. The foundation is today managed by the children of Mr. and Mrs. McRae: Richard D. McRae, Jr., Susan McRae Shanor and Vaughan W. McRae.

“Our parents were committed to Millsaps for many reasons – including its Methodist heritage and progressive intellectual approach to social issues as reflected in the professors and speakers who are part of the Center’s historic fabric,” the McRae children wrote in a letter announcing the gift. “We can think of no better way to honor our parents and their commitment to Millsaps.”

Previous gifts to Millsaps from the McRae Foundation include an endowed scholarship for undergraduate students and a chair of business administration in the Else School of Management.

“This is an extraordinary gift for Millsaps, and we are honored that the legacy of Selby Watkins McRae, a 1946 graduate of Millsaps, and Richard McRae, a long-time trustee of the College, will live on as part of this historic building,” Dr. Robert Pearigen, president of Millsaps College, said in the gift announcement. “To know that Millsaps had a place in their hearts lifts my spirits and gives me the highest hopes for the future of the College.”

Renovation of the Christian Center is anticipated to begin sometime in the 2017-18 academic year, the college said.

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