Alejandra Rojas
Staff reporter

Just when everyone on campus began to enjoy not having construction around, phase two will be underway.

The second part of renovations will begin as Richardson Auditorium prepares to undergo transformation.

So how exactly is the new Richard L. Jantz stadium and now Richardson Auditorium funded? Don’t worry the money put into making the renovations isn’t coming from student’s pockets, but from the Mabee Grant.

The Mabee Foundation originates from Tulsa, Okla. and makes grants called challenge grants in Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas.

“Their idea is to try to be a catalyst for other people to give,” said Dick Merriman, president of the college. “So what they do is, in our case the combined cost of the auditorium project and the stadium project which is $6 million and basically what they said was ‘you raise a $5 million and we will give you the last million.”

Merriman said he traveled to Tulsa about two years ago to talk to the foundation and to get their initial reaction to the plan and the school’s budget.

“They said ‘it looks good,’ and I submitted a proposal to them about a year ago and they approved it and basically we had a year to raise $5 million,” said Merriman.

“We probably had $3 million raised because the foundation doesn’t want to make a challenge grant that you’re going to fail. They require you to be about half way through your fundraising before you can approach them,” he said.

With the help of Mike Farrel, vice president for institutional advancement, raising the rest of the money was possible. Farrel said basically his involvement with the grant was to contact donors for contributions, cash and pledges.

Merriman said there are good and bad things that come from the Mabee Grant. “Well the nice thing about a challenge grant is that, it is nice, but it is also a huge pain because it puts a lot of pressure on us and a lot of pressure on donors to step up,” he said.

All together 3,922 gift contributions and pledges were collected, which totaled to the amount needed. The donors that contributed to the fundraising were not only friends of the college, community members and benefactors, but also alumni and parents.

After the last million dollars was collected, Merriman contacted the foundation.

“We got in touch with them before Christmas to tell them now that we had raised our money and they sent us a check,” he said. “It isn’t every day I get my hands on a check for like a million dollars,” said Merriman.

Farrel said he thinks it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to have two state-of-the-art facilities on campus.

“It’s not only important for the performing arts and athletic students, but for the college and the community. It also helps with student recruitment and will be a great venue for spectators,” said Farrel.

With the construction of Richardson Auditorium underway, Timothy Shook, division chair of performing arts said he is most excited about the visual impact the new auditorium will bring.

“The college and the Winfield community will benefit by the arts performances and productions presented,” said Shook. “The speakers who use the hall will be able to be heard and understood.”

Though with the construction Shook said he is concerned for the faculty and staff members housed in Christy.

“They are going to put up with noise and dirt caused by the construction,” he said. “Also, performing arts faculty are inconvenienced minimally by having to perform in other venues.”

According to Merriman, the plan is to have the auditorium ready and waiting for when students return for the fall semester and to dedicate the auditorium at homecoming next fall.

Alejandra Rojas is a senior majoring in communication. You may e-mail her at alejandra.rojas@sckans.edu