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Sunderland Foundation gives a second sizable donation toward MNU’s new Student Center

By Alex Schmitt
Dec 06, 2017

The Student Center is one of many campus renovation projects within the fold of the Bright Futures campaign. According to university president Dr. David Spittal and Vice President for University Advancement Dr. Jon North, a total of $61 million will be used in order to fund improvements throughout the campus with $20 million of that amount intended for the new Student Center. The existing Campus Center building will be demolished and replaced by an entirely new structure.

When architecture firm PGAV did a cost analysis of what would be most convenient as far as development goes, they decided it would be beneficial to start from the ground up rather than building on to the existing Campus Center. North said that plans to build the Student Center have been made public since October of last year. On Nov. 11, a fundraiser was held in Wichita, Kan., and $1.25 million was raised toward it. The Cunningham Student Center will be named in honor of Drs. Paul and Connie Cunningham, influential members of College Church of the Nazarene. North said that after years of setting aside a new Student Center and focusing on other buildings such as the Bell and Cook Centers, it was time for a change.

“Whenever we did a major project, we decided what our priorities were [in] the moment and these other buildings were chosen at the time,” said North.

The Cunningham Student Center will include various amenities such as a kitchen,  patio,  lounge space with a stage, large conference room for prospective students,  coffee shop, fire pit, student fitness center and much more. The purpose of the building is to provide students with a place to congregate and participate in recreational activities. Currently, the Mabee Learning Commons serves as the principal gathering place for students.

bfmockA rendering of the proposed Cunningham Student Center as seen from the campus mall. Groundbreaking is scheduled to begin in 2020. Rendering courtesy of PGAV Architects.“The goal is to make [the Student Center] very beneficial to commuter and residential students,” said North.

Donations for Bright Futures have come from many different sources. The Sunderland Foundation alone has donated a total of $600 thousand. The Sunderland Foundation is a philanthropic organization that donates grants to various institutions, ranging from non-profit charities, to colleges and universities. About $34 million of Bright Futures’ $61 million goal has been raised. Spittal said that at the rate funds are being raised, groundbreaking is set for 2020.

Alumni, parents of alumni, corporations and foundations have all contributed to the financial progress that has been made. North attributes this to the dedication of alumni and parents.

“7,206 times last year, someone said our students are worth it, MNU’s mission is worth it and they see the return on that investment as not only individual lives changed, but also how the world is changed through them,” North said.

Alex Schmitt

- More by this author

Alex Schmitt is a History at MidAmerica Nazarene University, and he is also the news editor for The Trailblazer.

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