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MNU announces $61 million fundraising campaign

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By Christian Stewart
Nov 16, 2016

“Bright Futures: the campaign for MNU” will be entirely donation-based and take place over multiple years, according to a MNU press release.

Chief among the campaign’s capital projects is the construction of the Cunningham Student Center, dedicated to Drs. Paul and Connie Cunningham. According to an article written by MNU’s public relations manager Carol Best, the new 50,000-square-foot building will be designed to include many amenities that MNU’s current campus center is lacking, including an improved cafeteria, a bigger campus store and a new fitness center.

An artist's rendering of a view from the campus mall, looking at the future Cunningham Student Center. Rendering provided by PGAV Architects, courtesy of MNU public relations.An artist's rendering of a view from the campus mall, looking at the future Cunningham Student Center. Rendering provided by PGAV Architects, courtesy of MNU public relations.

The campaign also plans to fund a new 2,000-seat football stadium. In a video about Bright Futures, head football coach Brian Willmer talked about the advantages of having a football stadium on campus.

“Bringing football back creates a whole new culture that the university can jump around, put their hands around, [and] get excited about,” Willmer said. “The site said that building the new stadium will give us the opportunity to reconnect the Pioneers with their home crowd.”

Along with the stadium, MNU’s Bright Futures website also promises a new athletic complex designed to fully accommodate the needs of the current athletic program.

The fundraising campaign is scheduled to run for a five-year stretch. Best wrote that the campaign intends improve and expand amenities in three prioritized categories with specific budgets. Academic Programs ($6,989,043), Capital Projects ($28,109,262), and University Support ($26,214,328).

Dr. Jon North, the head of the program and vice president of university advancement, said that planning for the campaign officially began on July 1, 2015. Up until the unveiling, the project underwent what North referred to as a “silent phase.” He said that during this time of planning, architectural company PGAV (Peckham Guyton Albers & Viets, Inc.) did estimates for the building expenses based around cost expectations for 2019.

“We’ve made the public launch on Friday, and we’re ready to get busy,” North said.

Best wrote that Bright Futures is the largest capital campaign that MNU has ever embarked on.  North said all funding for the project is going to come entirely from donations and other outside dollars; there will be no increases in tuition as a result of the campaign. North explained that although Bright Futures is divided into three broad categories, donors will be able to choose which specific project they wish to donate to.

This style of fundraising allows for more control on behalf of the donor, thus encouraging more donations. North also said that MNU will only break ground once full-funding for each project has been achieved.

North said that even though the funding process for the new student center will take a while, the results will make the wait and the cost worth it.

“The student center is one of those places where we want to put our best foot forward,” North said. “This building will be right at our front door when you come in our new main entrance, and for prospective students and their parents to make their way up that hill and see a three-story clock tower ready to greet them. … We think it’s going to help make the institution stronger.”

Interim vice president for finance and CFO Michael Stowell said that the board of directors have kicked around ideas for a new student center for years. He said architects decided to adhere to the older colonial style with which the rest of the buildings on campus are modeled after. The renderings show that the entire south side of the building is designed to have large windows that look out over the campus mall. Stowell said the building is going to have a very open and well-lit feel.

In Best’s article, Dr. David Spittal, university president, said the campaign was motivated by a drive to keep MNU moving forward.

“Fifty years after the start of this university, it is now our responsibility to take what our founders built to a new level of excellence,” Spittal said.

Christian Stewart

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Christian Stewart is a student at MidAmerica Nazarene University and a reporter for The Trailblazer.

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