Administration concentrates efforts on new student center, BPAC

Administration concentrates efforts on new student center, BPAC

by Sarah LefeberStaff Writer

President John Byrd and the administration have been concentrating their efforts on raising funds to build the new student center and renovate the Blank Performing Arts Center.

Although the student center is a much larger campaign in terms of the scale of the projects, the administration is regarding the two with equal importance.

“The priority of the campus and the administration is both projects,” said Senior Advancement Officer Christopher Goodale. “From a fundraising standpoint, we need to have success every day on both campaigns.”

The administration project’s renovations are to be completed on the Blank Performing Arts Center by 2010, the year of Simpson’s sesquicentennial. This is also the year planned for groundbreaking to begin on the student center.

“We think it’s an ambitious time frame, but certainly one that we’re going to work hard to achieve,” said Bob Lane, vice president for college advancement. “Both efforts are kind of a multi-faceted campaign. There are different areas that we will coordinate in the fundraising projects.”

Part of this goal is carried out in fundraising committees for both the student center and the theatre. Lane said the committees are comprised of trustees, friends of the institution and alumni.

Raising around $7 million for the student center, these fundraising committees and administration have raised one third of the projected $21 million needed for the student center.

The renovations on the Blank Performing Arts Center are projected at $6 million.

“We have $3.6 million already contributed to the campus center and not quite that for the performing arts center,” Goodale said. “The rest of the $7 million is coming from student fees.”

Set in motion last year, the system is now set up so every Simpson student is currently paying $100 in student fees going toward the new student center.

“This proposal was approved unanimously by SGA last year,” said Jim Thorius, vice president for student development. “It is set up on a schedule to run for the next 25 years.”

While the final costs of the buildings cannot be determined due to fluctuation in steel and concrete costs, President Byrd said the fundraising is on schedule.

“The fundraising is going as planned,” Byrd said. “For the past several months, I have been spending my time traveling the country and meeting with prospective donors. People are responding very well to the project.”

With such large projects set to begin in the next few years, Byrd explained that the committees and the administration have been expanding their efforts to include many different entities.

“We look for funding sources in many different places,” Byrd said. “$21 million is the most expensive building project in Simpson’s history. You have to work very hard and make contact with literally hundreds of individual donors, corporations, foundations and governmental agencies to raise that kind of money.”

Lane said that Simpson’s alumni are one of the most important facets in raising the money for both projects.

“They give because they believe in Simpson,” he said. “They give because they got a good education here, and hopefully they give because they believe in the current student and want to provide for you much like someone provided for them.”

While the student center’s projected groundbreaking date is 2010, construction will start whenever the necessary funds are raised.

“The college has a policy that we don’t build until we have raised 100 percent of the funds,” Goodale said.

He said that while the fundraising was started before President Byrd arrived in 2005, Byrd’s focus on the projects has been instrumental in their success thus far.

“The energy and excitement led by the president makes me very confident that these projects are absolutely going to happen,” Goodale said. “It’s just a question of things being brought into place between now and 2010.

Lane agrees the projects are important for Simpson College, its students and faculty.

“I think these two facilities are attractive in so many ways because of what they mean to the college,” he said. “Your needs are much different than mine were when I was a student here. The way students learn today and the way they learned 25, 30 years ago are very different, and these two facilities would sure make a statement in that regard.”