HSU Breaks Ground on Houston-Lantrip Center

May 21, 2018 Grace Mitchell, Staff Writer

When Hardin-Simmons broke ground on the Houston-Lantrip Center (HLC) on May 17th, a long-awaited dream was realized. Dr. Emily Dean has dreamed of serving students with dyslexia in a more conducive environment since she became program director of the Houston-Lantrip Center for Literacy and Learning in 2011.

Dr. Dean currently works with students in Abilene Hall, an academic classroom building constructed in 1948. There is no waiting area for children and their families, so children typically sit on the floor while they wait for their therapy session.

Despite this inconvenience, HSU has been serving students with dyslexia for over twenty years. The problem of dyslexia is more prevalent than one might think. Dyslexia affects one in five children. However, only half of those with dyslexia characteristics are identified by the public-school system, and most private schools are unequipped to serve students with reading disabilities. HSU hopes to stand in that gap as they help students succeed in school and in life.

Through HSU’s dyslexia therapy program, students throughout the Abilene area have learned to read at grade level. The program also improves students’ social lives as they gain the confidence they may have never had before. When the Houston-Lantrip Center is complete, HSU will be able to expand their services to a greater number of students and improve the quality of their experience.

Thanks to a generous gift from Mae Houston-Lantrip, a 1947 Hardin-Simmons graduate whose daughter has dyslexia, and other major donors, HSU has received more than enough funds needed to construct and furnish a state-of-the-art facility to give these students the education they deserve.

A challenge grant issued in the fall by the J. E. and L. E. Mabee Foundation promised $600,000 if $900,000 was raised by October. The challenge was met and exceeded. The overall funding needed was $3.2 million, but the center raised over $3.7 million. The conference center will be expanded with the additional funds that were raised.

Not only will the HLC provide a place for dyslexia therapy, but it will also be the home to HSU’s new Autism Center. The center will enable more teachers and HSU graduates to be trained to help children with dyslexia and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It will provide learning environments that can adapt through the integration of embedded technology, flooring and wall finishes, and audio and visual enhancements. These multi-sensory experiences are a vital part of effective therapy for both children with dyslexia and children with ASD.

The center will contain multiple soundproof rooms and separate waiting areas to accommodate individualized programming for children with dyslexia and ASD. Permanent office spaces for both full-time and part-time faculty and staff will also be provided. The Houston-Lantrip Center is projected to be completed by Fall 2019.