$15 million donation speeds up campus center plans

Brianna Stapleton

This past August, an anonymous donor made a $15 million donation toward the construction of the new university campus center. This donation is the largest in Lawrence history, beating out the $8 million gift appropriated to Hiett Hall.
The significant donation will help accelerate the fundraising timeline for the campus center. The facility will cover 100,000 square feet and will house dining services, a mail room, a cinema, and offices for student organizations.
Greg Volk, Lawrence’s Vice President for Development of External Affairs, commented that this large donation changes everything in the plans for construction of the campus center. “This takes it from a gleam in our eye to something that is much more possible.”
According to Volk, the donor wishes that their name be revealed only to “those who absolutely must know.”
Volk notes that it takes a long time to secure such a monumental gift, and that developing relationships with donors is fundamental to the process. “Really large major gifts evolve over a period of years. The better a donor knows Lawrence, the better our chances for greater support.”
If the donor wishes, he or she can claim the naming rights for the building. “Naming rights come when you give essentially half of the construction costs,” Volk stated. There is no news yet if the anonymous donor will choose to name the campus center.
The donation also inspires efforts in others. When the donation was announced to the Trustees this past summer, they became much more committed to fundraising efforts and made the campus center their number one priority.
Campus Center Planning Committee member and Professor of Music Ken Bozeman notes, “Ground will not be broken until all monies are raised, and such a large gift not only jumpstarts the funding, it attracts other gifts.”
Nathan Litt, another member of the planning committee, hopes that this large donation will continue to encourage others to give to the project. “The $15 million was the catalyst,” said the junior. “We should break ground this coming spring upon approval from the Board of Trustees.”
These extra efforts are needed especially at this juncture. “Construction costs have escalated quite a bit since we started planning the campus center,” said Volk. Originally, the center was estimated to cost approximately $29 million, but that number has now risen to $31.7 million.
Paul Shrode, Associate Dean of Students for Campus Activities, comments, “A new campus center has been a need at Lawrence for many years and I have participated in planning efforts several times toward that end. A gift of this nature is a strong endorsement of the need for such a building.”
Shrode, who is also a member of the planning committee, adds, “This building is truly a dream come true, and with this generous gift, is much closer to reality.”
The Campus Center Planning Committee has a lot of work ahead of them for 2006-07 academic year. They will work on finalizing the specifics for the interior and exterior of the building, such as selecting comfortable furniture for the student programming level.
Litt encourages students to get involved in the process. “Students, faculty and staff should look for announcements regarding input and listening sessions, where committee members will solicit thoughts and ideas from the Lawrence community.”
One of the fundamental parts of the planning process is engaging the students, as that is the group that will be utilizing the campus center most.
“I believe that it is important for the committee to involve the student body as much as possible in the planning process,” said Litt. “And so far, I feel that the Campus Center Planning Committee has done a good job of doing so.