The George A. Batte Jr. Center stands as one of Wingate University's most interesting and aesthetic buildings. The Batte Center serves as an artistic focal point within Union
County due to its revolving art exhibit and various performance halls. There are numerous events year-round that are offered to Wingate University's students, faculty,
and the public.
To understand the significance of the Batte Center, we have to know the more about the name the Batte family. George A. Batte Jr. studied chemistry at Davidson College, and due to the hard times from the Great Depression, worked at the Cannon Textile Mills. During his time at the Mill, he worked his way up the company and began a partnership with the owner himself, Charles A. Cannon. Together, they opened the Cabarrus Memorial Hospital (now the Carolinas Medical Center) in 1937 and continued serving the community for more than 60 years. Along with Cannon, Batte used his shares in the Cannon Charitable Foundation to advance neighboring communities as well as cancer research in their hospital. This trust was also used to donate over $1 million towards the building of the George A. Batte Jr. Center.
Construction began in the fall of 1997 and opened its doors on October 23, 1999, on the Batte Center. At the cost of $8.3 million, the Center is 46,000 square feet, with a theater that seats 550 people, a recital hall that seats 174, backstage dressing rooms, multiple classrooms, a choral hall, three student lounges, and other minor facilities. Today, the Batte Center provides Lyceum lectures, musical concerts, and collegiate instruction.
“My father always taught us that those who were fortunate enough to possess or earn wealth had a special responsibility to both use it wisely and to share it with those less fortunate. If you don’t take care of this generation, the next one won’t be worth shooting. My advice is to throw the
roses where you can smell them. Don’t wait until you’re dead and gone. Do it now.” - Irwin Belk
Like other institutions of higher learning in the Charlotte area, Wingate University would not be the place it is today without the many contributions of Irwin “Ike” Belk. A Charlotte native, Irwin was born on April 4th, 1922 to William Henry Belk, Sr., and his wife, Mary Irwin Belk. As part of the Belk family, Irwin found himself in a powerful and wealthy position, a position he felt would be best utilized to help others. In this pursuit, Belk served his country in the 491st Bomber Group in World War II and served his local community by introducing legislation that created
UNC Charlotte, donating funds for the new campus and several other universities including Wingate University.
In a gesture of gratitude for his contributions, Wingate University dedicated its track and field stadium to Irwin Belk on May 8th, 2013 by naming it the Irwin Belk Stadium. The track facility was the 41st one of its kind to be funded by Belk. Belk had a strong love for athletics, mainly track and field, providing funding across the state for stadiums like the Irwin Belk Stadium in other colleges and universities. His passion for athletics even earned him an Olympic Order from the International Olympic Committee. A bust in Belk's image was also erected before the stadium to commemorate the man who helped fund it. Belk passed away on February 24th, 2018.