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Student involvement powers President’s Honors

By Blake Holden
May 02, 2017

Raising more than $700,000, this year’s President’s Honors banquet brought together students and supporters of MidAmerica to create the largest fundraising event in MNU history.

On April 7, Cook Center was transformed for President’s Honors. This event is largely powered by current MNU students, as they served as wait staff, gave personal testimonies to guests and performed in the band and choir. Photo courtesy of MNU public relations.On April 7, Cook Center was transformed for President’s Honors. This event is largely powered by current MNU students, as they served as wait staff, gave personal testimonies to guests and performed in the band and choir. Photo courtesy of MNU public relations.

Of the $709,126 total raised through the event, $597,592.70 is net profit, according to Jon North, vice president of university advancement.

People from all over the world were invited to be a part of the MNU community through their giving on April 7. The yearly fundraising event gives donors a taste of the campus life, interactions with students and the opportunity to meet other individuals contributing to MNU.

University President David Spittal explained that, in the midst of MNU’s campaign to raise funds for new buildings and campus advancements, it’s important for students to know that the fundraising is, above all, for them.

“I want [students] to know that there are people that they don’t even know that are investing in them,” Spittal said. “Our scholarship program is dependent on nights like this, and other night like this, to raise scholarships. When I see the students, I see you guys and I know how important these scholarships are, and that makes it worth it.”

North said that this level of community involvement between the students and the donors serves a dual purpose. The event costs less to put on, meaning more money raised goes to students, and donors are able to have meaningful experiences with the students they are giving to.

“While it’s more work to do it here, none of our students can be wait staff at the Hyatt Reagents downtown,” North said. “They can’t be wait staff at the Embassy suites, because they won’t allow it. So, it really moves what would really be an expense to be part of the mission.”

North said that student involvement is essential to President’s Honors because some attendees may otherwise have little personal experience with the university. North talked about one guest who had valuable takeaways from the connections made with the students at the event.

“He’s been here and he’s experienced this, and to me he’s had a meaningful engagement with our students,” North said. “Someone at his table prayed for one of our students. He may have been the one that prayed for one of our students, and so now you’ve changed the relationship in a pretty significant way.”

Tim and Gale Buchanan have donated publicly to the university for several years and gave at least $100,000 this year alone. Their son, Matthew Buchanan, attended MNU, but Tim said that they were impressed with the quality of people who graduated from MidAmerica and wanted to support its students even before his son became a student.

“Everyone needs a ministry to attach to and a ministry to support, and in our family, it’s been MNU,” Buchanan said. “I think it’s an important thing to support Christian education to put people out in the world who have a Christian worldview, and can take that Christian worldview out in the community. And that’s just unique here.”

The Buchanans are also giving towards the new student center, but Buchanan said donating at this specific event was important to him because he knew his money would go directly to student scholarships.

“I want to see the Cunningham Center built,” Buchanan said. “But I want to see the university continue to thrive and turn out great Christian graduates and good academic leaders that can change the world.”

Michael Copeland, mayor of Olathe, attended the event to accept an award and to show support to MidAmerica, because like Buchanan, he said investing in the students at MNU is an investment in the larger picture.

“MidAmerica Nazarene University is just a part of the core of our community,” Copeland said. “It has infused all of our organizations and institutions in town. MNU really helps set the tone for quality and excellence in our community. It sets the tone for the values in our community, and it makes Olathe a better place.”

Blake Holden

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Blake Holden ('18) is an Intercultural Studies major at MNU. Blake is the life editor for the Trailblazer, is from Monett, Missouri, and is planning on going into international Business upon graduation.

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