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Newman family donates to University of Jamestown sports arena, nursing scholarships

JAMESTOWN, N.D. -- The family that owns Newman Signs has made the largest one-time gift ever to the University of Jamestown in memory of the company's founder and his wife for the school's proposed sports arena and also for establishing scholarsh...

Dr. Robert Badal, president of the University of Jamestown and Polly Peterson, executive vice president announce Monday, May 18, 2015, about the generous contribution the family of the late Harold Newman made to construct a new athletic arena on the campus. John Steiner / Forum News Service


JAMESTOWN, N.D. -- The family that owns Newman Signs has made the largest one-time gift ever to the University of Jamestown in memory of the company’s founder and his wife for the school’s proposed sports arena and also for establishing scholarships for the university’s nursing program.

The amount of the donation was not disclosed by the Newman family or UJ officials.

Kari Newman Ness said the family thought the gift would be a really good way to honor their parents, Mary and Harold Newman. Harold Newman founded Newman Signs in 1956 and died Feb. 20, 2014, at the age of 80.


Newman Signs is one of the 10 largest sign manufacturers in the country and one of the largest employers in Jamestown. Newman Signs manufactures and distributes traffic signs, billboards, posters, vinyl posters, banners, specialty signs and contracts urban work, according to information from the company’s website.

“Dad (Harold) lived in this town,” she said. “He was a big supporter of the college and a big supporter of Jimmies basketball. We think it’s the appropriate way to honor his memory.”

The donation, announced with fanfare by University of Jamestown officials Monday at the UJ Foss Wellness Center, is the lead donation for the sports arena project.

Polly Peterson, UJ executive vice president, said the size of the gift was “significant,” and she, UJ President Robert Badal and other school officials will travel this summer to secure other donations for the sports arena.

“With the lead gift, we think that will provide the momentum we need to get the remaining gifts,” Peterson said.

Badal said the donation from the Newman family was the “largest single gift in our history.

“Today is an historic time in the history of the University of Jamestown,” he said. “I’m very pleased to say the next major project for us is made possible by a wonderful gift from a family that has many years of loyalty to the University of Jamestown, the family of Harold and Mary Newman.”

Tena Lawrence, UJ director of communications, said the previous largest one-time gift given to UJ was $3.9 million donated by Rosemary Reiland for the Reiland Fine Arts Center. Lawrence said the Reiland Fine Arts Center had a construction cost of $6.9 million.


Badal said the new sports arena, which will have seating for 2,200 people, will include locker rooms, a training facility and basketball courts and room for community events. The arena will have the Newman name on it, but a final name will be determined by the Newman family.

“The placeholder (meaning the temporary name until the final name is chosen) for us is the Newman Arena,” Peterson said.

The estimated cost for constructing the new sports arena and renovating the training facility will be $16 million, according to Peterson.

Peterson said the Newman family gift also will establish an endowment for scholarships for the university’s nursing program. The scholarships will be named after Mary Newman, though an official name has not yet been chosen.

Peterson said the endowment for the scholarships is “significant,” and will be for students entering the UJ nursing program. She said the specifics of the scholarship and how it will be distributed have not yet been worked out.

Richard Hall, a longtime friend of Harold Newman and member of the UJ Board of Trustees, read a prepared statement from the Newman family at the announcement Monday.

“The University of Jamestown is located in the city in which our parents chose to live, work and raise their family,” the statement reads. “This university and the community of Jamestown have been good to the Newman family and the timing is right to give back.”

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