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Extreme Makeover: Bear Plaza Edition

June 4, 2004

The Bill and Eva Williams family of Scottsdale, Ariz., has given a lead gift that will move the Bear Habitat expansion and renovation project halfway to its goal of $950,000.

The popular on-campus facility, which is home to Baylor's North American black bear mascots Joy and Lady, will be named the Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat Complex. The Williamses, both Baylor graduates, said they believe it is critical for the University's live mascots to have the best facility possible, both for the well-being of the bears and for the many visitors to Baylor's campus.

"When I first stepped on the Baylor campus as a freshman, I was so impressed by the bears. That was a great part of the college experience at Baylor and one that many universities don't have," said Bill Williams, chair, president and CEO of Scottsdale-based Medcom USA, a provider of healthcare/financial transaction solutions for the healthcare industry.

"The Hudson family did a remarkable job with the bear plaza, and we look forward to taking the tradition ahead and expanding the facility even further," he said.

The Williamses' daughter, Michelle, is a junior at Baylor, and their son, Preston, will be a freshman in the fall.

The bears' home, built in 1976 as the Steve Hudson Memorial Bear Plaza, will stay in its present location along Waco Creek but will double in size.

The existing site will be renovated with an area recognizing the Hudsons' original gift. The new habitat will enhance the bears' living environment and provide a home more like their natural habitat.

The bear plaza is the most-visited site on campus and provides an educational experience about North American black bears for area schoolchildren, students, alumni and other visitors.

In addition to the Williams family's lead gift, the Bear Habitat project has received a $50,000 commitment from the 2004 Baylor/Waco Foundation campaign, as well as other gifts from donors. Construction on the project will begin once all the funds have been raised.

For more information, contact Cathy Dunnam Pleitz, project coordinator, at (254) 710-2561 or (800) BAYLOR-U, option 4, or visit www.baylor.edu/development for more on the Bear Habitat campaign.

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