West Palm Beach resident Karl H. Watson and his son, Karl H. Watson Jr., of Houston, Texas, announced today that their family will donate $2.5 million to Palm Beach Atlantic University. The Watsons have a more than 30-year history with the university, which will name its newly opened, 154-room student residence hall Watson Hall.
Karl Watson Sr. has served as a PBA trustee since 1997 and received the University’s American Free Enterprise Medal in 2007 for his community involvement and civic service. He is the retired President and Chief Operating Officer for Rinker Materials Corporation, ranked among the world’s top 10 producers of concrete block and ready-mix concrete. A pioneer in his field, he received numerous industry awards for his experience and service to the profession. He was inducted into the M. E. Rinker, Sr. School of Construction Management Hall of Fame at the University of Florida in 2014. Over the years, he has served as a board member for companies and organizations that include the National Concrete Ready Mix Association; the Norton Museum of Art; the Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum; Student ACES; Flagler National Bank; Fidelity Federal Bank and Trust; and as chairman of the board of West Palm Beach’s Urban Youth Impact. His wife, Faith, served on the University’s Women of Distinction committee.
Karl Watson Jr. is a 1987 PBA graduate who joined the University’s Board of Trustees in January 2020. He has more than 30 years of global experience in the construction materials industry, including three years in Australia as CEO of CSR/Rinker and President of Cemex USA, where he additionally had global responsibility for the ready mix concrete product line. Today he is the Chief Executive Officer of Forterra, Inc., the largest manufacturer of concrete and ductile iron pipe in the United States.
“A donation of this magnitude from a family that has been a cornerstone of our university’s leadership, growth and success for 30 years has a profound impact on the school’s future,” said PBA President Dr. Debra A. Schwinn. “On behalf of the entire PBA community, I want to thank Karl Sr., Karl Jr., and the entire Watson family for their abiding generosity that has been transformative for Palm Beach Atlantic University. Their continued commitment to our school positions us so well for the next generation of students, amplifies our voice in the community and significantly advances our mission.”
CBL is the University’s sixth Center of Excellence, established to confront a leadership crisis that exists today across business and ministry sectors in North America and around the globe. Its mission is to develop and support leaders who seek to integrate biblical truth and spiritual wisdom into today’s leadership best practices. CBL is being used as a key strategic driver of leadership development across the entire University.
“I am so grateful that Karl Sr. and Karl Jr. understand how badly the world needs bright, articulate leaders who are not just biblically literate, but have learned how to integrate biblical principles into transformative leadership practices,” said Dr. Sam Voorhies, Director of the CBL.
The Watsons' generosity will also endow an administrative supplement for the position of Athletic Director. Their gift also will fund improvements to the workout room in the Greene Complex, adding new exercise equipment and a fresh, inspiring look for the gym.
“The Watson family has always been a constant source of encouragement to me, prompting me to excel” said Courtney Lovely, Athletic Director. “The transformation of the exercise center will further increase our dynamic, unstoppable school spirit and will provide an incredible space for students to get Sailfish Strong!”
“We are eager to see the Watson family name rise on our beautiful new building,” President Schwinn added. “Naming the residence hall for them is a meaningful way for PBA to commemorate the endowments to our two programs and fund the position of Athletic Director, which is a vital role on the President’s Cabinet. We are so very grateful that their foresight will have such a positive impact on generations to come.”
“Palm Beach Atlantic University is a treasure to our family and to the Palm Beaches. We are delighted to support this world-class university so that more graduates, prepared with a firm Christian worldview, will be ready to positively impact the Palm Beaches, our state, nation and the world,” said Karl Watson, Sr. “We need them now more than ever.”
Another motivation for the gift was to serve as a challenge to the University’s alumni and friends to step forward at this time and contribute to the many important programs at PBA until the Watson’s gift is matched, dollar for dollar.
“I know the PBA community can rally to match our gift, and now is the time to take that step,” said Karl Watson, Jr. “PBA forever altered the trajectory of my life and I have been blessed because of it. We are humbled to give back to this great university that means so much to our family. The gifts that result from our challenge will support student scholarships so the next generation can get the same foundation I was blessed to receive. We believe amazing things will happen if we all pay it forward together.”
The matching gift funds will go to two important areas—endowed student scholarships and a faculty endowment for research and continued training.
“There are so many bright, talented, hard-working students who want to attend PBA but cannot due to finances. We are thrilled that this matching gift challenge will be used to provide endowed scholarships, making a Christ-first education possible for deserving students,” said Tim Worley, Vice President for Admissions.
Provost Dr. Randy Richards said that a faculty endowment for research and faculty development is immeasurably valuable at PBA.
“This enables our top-notch teachers to expand their research, obtain more training in their fields, and even find meaningful time of respite and reflection,” Richards said.
The Watson family’s children, Stephanie Tucker Redd, Stacey Tucker Arlosoroff and Alan Tucker are all lifetime residents of Palm Beach County, where they worked and raised their own families. Daughter Karlyn Sullivan supports the Admissions Office in outreach to home-school families. Daughter Kendra Pearson, along with her husband, Dan, serve as members of the University’s Parents Council. Two of their children, Brooke and Danny Pearson, are currently PBA students.
Watson Hall is an eight-story campus residence at the corner of Pembroke Place and South Dixie Highway. Each of the one-and two-bedroom units has a full kitchen and increased safety and security features based on a combination of intentional architectural design and leading-edge technology.
A community room, for activities that encourage camaraderie and spiritual growth, as well as private study areas, are included on every floor. Watson Hall’s location places residential students close to their classes, faculty offices, and campus life. It was built by and in partnership with Hedrick Brothers Construction of West Palm Beach. A spring 2021 ribbon cutting is planned.
Alumni and friends of Palm Beach Atlantic who wish to answer the Watson Family Challenge can make their donations securely online on the university’s website: www.pba.edu/giving/other-opportunities/watson-matching-challenge.html.
Photo 1: An artist's composite of Watson Hall
Photo 2: Karl Watson Sr. served as a PBA trustee since 1997 and received the University's American Free Enterprise Medal in 2007.
Photo 3: Karl Watson Jr. is a 1987 PBA graduate who joined the University's Board of Trustees in January 2020.