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Hauth Family endows chair for Communication Skills Center

Published December 14, 2018

The idea for a communication center started 20 years ago as a concept jotted on a wisp of paper. Today, the Luster E. and Audrey Nichol Hauth Center for Communication Skills will celebrate its 20th anniversary this month in a new space on the Long Beach State campus with a newly endowed center chair all because of the generosity of the Hauth Family.

Emeritus Professor Luster E. and his wife Audrey Nichol Hauth donated $1 million to fund the chair, which not only guarantees the Center that bears their name will continue to grow, but so will their legacy.

The latest gift is the third $1 million the Hauths have given the university. Their initial gift in 1998 established the Center – the largest gift of its kind from a retired professor in the CSU system at the time – and second donation enabled the Center to grow, offer more service to students and the Long Beach community.

Audrey Hauth, who taught for 20 years, said the establishment of an endowed Hauth Center chair is “something that would guarantee that the Hauth Center would continue forever.”

Dr. Timothy G. Plax, executive director of the center, indicated that an endowed chair is the gold standard of all universities.

“When a chair is endowed, whether in part or in whole, it brings credibility both locally or nationally to the center or department that receives the endowment,” Plax said. “The family talked it over and it worked out financially to create the additional major foundational stone in this center.”

Pat Kearney, an emeritus professor of Communication Studies, said having an endowed chair puts “the punctuation” on the importance of the Hauth Center.

“It started as a little piece of paper and a concept and it’s turned into a full-fledged center,” Kearney said, “so it only makes sense to do this one last thing to ensure the Center perpetuity and make sure we always have someone running the center. The endowment ensures we will always have the money to have that leadership.”

The Luster E. and Audrey Nichol Hauth Center for Communication Skills recently moved from the second floor of the LAB Building to a high-tech office in Academic Services, where students, faculty and community residents and organizations can enhance their personal communication skills in a variety of ways. Among the ways the Center can help is with effective speaking, leadership and conversational techniques.

“Not only does (an endowed chair) strengthen the Center but serves as a reminder how our employees -a professor for 28 years, an educator for 20 years and a family -- have made a commitment to making a difference in the world,” President Jane Close Conoley said. “It will give them the edge they need to stand out in an ever-changing world of work.”

College of Liberal Arts Dean David Wallace said it will take at least a year for the endowment to mature and allow the university to appoint someone for the position of chair.

“The chair that the Hauth’s have endowed will be charged with the daily running of the center -- training and overseeing the consultants being the primary tasks, but also consulting with faculty about how the Center can support oral communication curriculum more broadly,” Wallace said. “The endowment is critical as it will ensure intellectual leadership for the center in perpetuity.”