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T.W. Lewis Foundation contributes $2.5M for Barrett Honors College student success, personal development centers

Tom and Jan Lewis

Tom and Jan Lewis, co-founders of the T.W. Lewis Foundation, are contributing $2.5 million to Barrett, The Honors College at ASU to support centers for student personal development and success.

January 31, 2019

Tom and Jan Lewis envision a one-stop shop where students in Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University can go for assistance with personal development, career coaching, self-awareness assessments, leadership training, networking opportunities and courses on finding success and happiness.

Their vision is set to become a reality with the establishment of the T.W. Lewis Center for Personal Development at the Tempe campus.

The Lewises, founders of the T.W. Lewis Foundation, have agreed to contribute $1.5 million for the center, which will have a full-time director, four faculty members, an assessment coordinator, a speaker series and specialized curriculum. The goal is to have the center fully staffed and open to students by August.

In addition, they will contribute $1 million toward the construction of the Barrett Honors College Student Success Center, which is in the planning stages. The Student Success Center will have academic advising, writing tutoring and other programs to help students be successful at the university and beyond.

Approval for construction of the $10 million Student Success Center is pending this spring. Plans call for the center to be built adjacent to the Barrett Vista del Sol complex, near Apache Boulevard and McAllister Avenue in Tempe. The T.W. Lewis Center will be housed inside the Student Success Center.

The Lewises' contribution for the Student Success Center is a seed grant to encourage others to contribute construction funds during Campaign ASU 2020, the university’s multiyear fundraising campaign.

“The Honors College has long wished to have a central spot for all of the kinds of advising and teaching we do aimed at student success," said Mark Jacobs, dean of Barrett, The Honors College and ASU vice provost. "There are the academic-oriented activities such as honors advising and writing tutoring, then there is international fellowships advising and then there is coaching and advising for students' personal and career success. The latter category has not been present — at Barrett or at most colleges and universities — and Tom and Jan Lewis believe it should be available to all honors students.

“The Lewis gift makes a Center for Personal Development possible, but it also contributes to the construction of the building housing our student success initiatives of every sort. It is a phenomenal and thoughtful gift that will redefine how colleges think about preparing their students for success after college,” Jacobs said.

The idea for the T.W. Lewis Center sprang from the Lewises' long time association with Barrett, The Honors College. For over a decade, they have annually awarded the T.W. Lewis Scholarship to 10 Arizona freshmen entering the college.

“We looked for students with academic potential, leadership potential and financial need," said Tom Lewis, founder, owner and CEO of the T.W. Lewis Company, which focuses on philanthropy, luxury property leasing and sales and other real estate investments. "We not only funded scholarships, but also included career counseling, personal development and networking opportunities, and we gave them inspirational books to read. In addition to academics, we were interested in helping students develop their personal strengths and values.” 

“The concept for a center for personal development grew out of the idea that instead of 10 students a year, let’s have a personal development program to support all Barrett students,” he said.

Why have courses on success and happiness as part of the center?

“There’s a lot of knowledge about career planning, personal strengths, success and happiness. There’s the idea that you follow your passion and everything will be fine. I think you need to find your strengths and your passion will follow. Every student is unique and we can help each one realize their strengths and better understand how to find success and happiness,” Lewis said.

Lewis hopes his gift will spark more support for the Barrett Student Success Center.

“It really is a donor opportunity for anyone who is interested in supporting Barrett and getting involved with the honors college,” he said.

“We are trying to develop successful people and successful leaders. We believe in young people and the value of education, and we want to focus on students and help them develop their strengths. We want them to become successful and happy.” 

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