Two big facilities projects at Southwestern College – construction of a new stadium and renovation of the college’s main auditorium to create a performing arts center – got a big boost with notification last week that the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation has issued a challenge grant for $959,000 to the college. The foundation is headquartered in Tulsa, Okla.
Under the terms of the challenge grant, Southwestern College has one year to secure pledges for 80% of the roughly $4.8 million needed for the two projects. If the college’s fund drive meets this goal, the Mabee Foundation will provide the final 20% needed to complete project funding.
“The math is pretty simple,” said college president Dick Merriman. “We currently have cash and pledges totaling $2.6 million for the two projects. We need additional commitments of $1.3 million to reach the 80% mark and claim the challenge grant from the Mabee Foundation to complete funding for the projects.”
The college is accepting pledges payable over three to five years for the projects.
“We don’t need to have cash in hand to meet the Mabee Foundation challenge,” Merriman noted, “just firm pledge commitments from individuals and organizations.”
The Mabee Foundation assists religious, charitable, and educational organizations in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Recent Mabee Foundation grants to Southwestern College have supported the construction of the Beech Science Center and Mabee Laboratories, and the renovation of Mossman Hall.
“We’re most grateful to the Mabee Foundation for this latest challenge grant and for all they have done, down through the years, to help the college,” Merriman stated. “Their grants, and the gifts they motivate through their challenges, have changed the face of Southwestern in very positive ways.”
The college’s new stadium, to be named for leadership donor Richard L. Jantz, will have a synthetic turf playing surface for football and soccer and a new eight-lane oval for track events. ADA-compliant home grandstand seating for 3,000 and visitor seating of 600 will be built. The stadium will include a press box complex providing accommodations for coaches, broadcasters, and game administrators. Restrooms and a concession stand facility will be built at the south end of the stadium. The facility will host athletic contests for Southwestern College and Winfield High School, Commencement exercises for both schools, and other community events.
The second performance venue slated for improvement with campaign funds is the auditorium in the Christy Administration Building which will be renovated to create an up-to-date performing arts center. The goal of the renovation, said Merriman, is to create a beautiful and well-equipped performing arts center that will properly support teaching, rehearsal, and performances, along with major lectures and convocations. The renovation will include a box office, ADA-compliant seating, new seats, production and technical areas in the rear of the hall, a reconfigured hall to improve acoustics, and significant improvements for staging and production of concerts, plays, and lectures.
“We have the opportunity, now, to dramatically improve two facilities that are crucial for the quality of life in Winfield. We have 12 months to reach our goal, and we’ll need help from everyone who loves Winfield and loves Southwestern,” concluded Merriman.
For more information on how to make a donation, and to learn more about naming and memorial opportunities, contact Mike Farrell, vice president for institutional advancement, at (620) 229-6286.