$1 million gift to Reedley College largest in school history

The Fresno BeeJuly 1, 2014 

Reedley College got $1 million Tuesday afternoon from the McClarty Family Foundation to help build the McClarty Center for Fine and Performing Arts.

The gift is the largest from alumni in the college's 88-year history, said Lucy Ruiz, the college's public information officer. College officials hope the center will help attract new students to boost enrollments, Reedley College President Sandra Caldwell said in a statement. It will also be available for community use, she said.

Before budget cuts, Reedley College had many art classes, Ruiz said. With the addition of an arts center, Ruiz said the college plans to bring back the lost classes.

Harold McClarty, whose family owns and operates HMC Farms in Kingsburg, said he's giving the gift as a simple way to give back and bring the community together. "I thought it would be a good way to draw the area into the college and vice versa," he said.

McClarty grew up in Parlier and Selma and received his associate degree from Reedley College in 1969. He remembered enjoying many lectures during his time at Reedley College and thought a performing arts center would provide a place for such events.

He hopes to set a precedent for his children and their families. "It's important to understand to give what you get," he said.

The check was presented during the State Center Community College District Board meeting at Fresno City College on Tuesday.

Though the project is still in the planning stages, Ruiz said the building will likely be the centerpiece of the campus located off Reed Avenue.

State Center Community College Foundation president Jim Briscoe said the center will surely be the "crown jewel" of the campus.

McClarty said it would be a dream come true if the facility was located near the Kings River on the west side of the campus.

"The little town of Reedley has a lot of assets; it has the hospital, the college, the airport and the river. It would be nice to take advantage of that since the college is right on the river," he said.

Board members praised the McClartys for their continued support of Reedley College, noting that Harold and his wife, Debbie, have hosted many fundraisers at their home. McClarty is a State Center Community College Foundation board member.

The foundation's treasurer, Chris Morse, said the McClartys' gift is the largest the foundation ever received.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6679 or bvaccari@fresnobee.com.

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