Harmons Pledge Gift for New Terminal at UCM's Swisher Skyhaven Airport
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Feb. 12, 2013) - Longtime Warrensburg residents Lynn and Jackie Harmon have pledged a major gift to the UCM Foundation toward construction of a new terminal at the University of Central Missouri’s Max B. Swisher Skyhaven Airport. The terminal is the next step in the airport’s multi-year master plan, which aims to better meet academic and public aviation needs while contributing to area economic growth.
“We are a university positioned to move forward, expending our resources and focused on what really matters — our students,” said UCM President Charles Ambrose. “We are also very mindful of the impact our decisions have on Warrensburg and the surrounding community. The aviation master plan is a great example of an initiative that ensures the university’s best interests are in complete alignment with what is good for the greater Johnson County area.”
The Harmons are the second generation of a family known for their generosity and support of the local community and the university. Lynn, a longtime businessman and former member and president of the UCM Board of Governors, is the son of Adrian and Margaret Harmon, who ran banking and automobile businesses for many years. Their gift helped create UCM’s Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies, which houses the aviation department. Lynn recalls that his father traded a car for his first airplane that he learned to fly in 1950 at Skyhaven.
“Assisting the construction of the new terminal will expand UCM’s successful aviation program and encourage continued growth of the Warrensburg and Johnson County industrial community,” he added. “Jackie and I feel very fortunate to find an opportunity to participate in a project that will benefit so many people.”
“The Harmons have been one of the families sharing our vision and investing their resources in the life of our university,” said Jason Drummond, vice president for development and Foundation executive director. “When you look at how their generosity has transformed the quality of our academic programs and the lives of our students, then look forward to what the future holds because of their commitment, I don’t think we can comprehend the full impact that their foresight and dedication will have on the university.”
The Harmons have stepped in several times to help with university priorities. The terminal, the latest project to receive their leadership support, is part of the aviation master plan. This extensive, multi-phase expansion of the airport would lengthen the primary runway to accommodate turbojet and light jet aircraft. In addition to the new terminal, it also would feature new hangars and an aviation center to provide education and training opportunities for students, corporate America and the U.S. military.
The new terminal is needed so that the current facility can be torn down to expand the runways. When completed, the building will provide offices for flight instructors, a flight instruction room, a student lounge, a dispatch office and a flight planning room plus accommodations for public use.
In 2012, Phase I of the 20-year master plan was completed including grading for a new terminal, improvements to the apron and taxiways, new T-hangars and access road, and property acquisition for a safety zone for landing and departing aircraft. Phase II begins with a focus on acquiring external funding for the $3.1 million terminal, parking facilities and relocation of hangar 2.
UCM is the only university in Missouri, and one of only a few in the nation, to own and operate a general aviation airport. Swisher Skyhaven Airport serves not only as a teaching laboratory for the university’s nationally recognized aviation programs but also as a catalyst for economic and workforce development within the region. Over the decades, Skyhaven has undergone many improvements and expansions, greatly enhancing the educational opportunities available to students, while also serving community aviation needs.
Today, the aviation curriculum includes four undergraduate degrees, one master’s and several FAA certificates that lead to careers as pilots, maintenance managers, airport managers and more. The program attracts students from throughout the U.S. and the world, including Army and Air Force personnel who are especially interested in the master’s degree in aviation safety. Through a recent agreement with Whiteman Air Force Base, the department will provide all aviation degree programs on base. Other partnerships under development will allow UCM to offer training on helicopters and remote piloted aircraft or drones.