William Woods gets grant to spur Imagine Campaign

An architectural rendering shows what Sorority Circle at William Woods University is envisioned to be.

An architectural rendering shows what Sorority Circle at William Woods University is envisioned to be.

FULTON, Mo. - William Woods University has received a $1 million challenge grant from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation to help meet the goals of the school’s Imagine Campaign.

“The Mabee Million, as we’ve dubbed it, will allow us to build upon the William Woods mission to distinguish itself as a student-centered institution and fulfill its vision to be recognized as a progressive and growing leader in higher education,” WWU President Jahnae Barnett said in a press release.

Dan Diedriech, vice president for university advancement, clarified Wednesday that the Mabee grant “doesn’t mean ‘Here’s a check for $1 million,’” but is intended to spur the school’s ongoing fundraising campaign toward meeting its $10.2 million goal.

Diedriech said William Woods already has raised about $8.3 million, including a $2.5 million gift from the Lucille and Bruce Lambert Charitable Foundation and a $2 million gift from an anonymous donor — the largest gift from an individual in the university’s history. In order to receive the $1 million from the Mabee grant, the university must successfully raise an additional $907,611 to complete the Imagine Campaign by May 28, 2014.

Diedriech said the Imagine Campaign was started about five years ago and consists of three main components:

• Sorority Circle and Amphitheater, a residential complex that will house all four of the school’s sororities, and an amphitheater designed for use for theatrical, musical and ceremonial events and festivals.

• Renovating the former presidential residence to turn it into the Tom and Claudine O’Connor Alumni and Visitors’ Center.

• The creation of The Center for Ethics and Global Studies.

Diedriech said the Sorority Circle will help free up “a great deal” of residential space on campus for non-Greek students, while he said he envisions the amphitheater becoming “a very strong drawing place to hold local arts shows, theater and music productions for the community.”

The Center for Ethics and Global Studies, he said, is not a physical building, but an academic program which will focus on ethics and global diversity courses, short- and long-term study abroad and international student services.

“Our goal is to create a seven-figure endowment (for the center), and the proceeds to assist and increase the annual operating budget for the program,” Diedriech said.

He said estimated costs for construction of the Sorority Circle and Amphitheater is $7.5-$8 million. Construction of the alumni and visitors’ center is an estimated $500,000.

Diedriech said William Woods will use the $1 million Mabee grant to encourage other donations by offering it as a matching grant — individuals or groups will be able to get naming rights for various entities for half of the originally listed price.

“The Sorority Circle is a perfect example,” he said. “It is $50,000 to name a room. Prior to the match, individuals could give $50,000 at once, or $10,000 for five years. Now they can have the $50,000 naming opportunity for $25,000.”

Although the fundraising deadline for the Mabee grant is May 28, 2014, Diedriech said the university hopes to have it all pledged by April 2014.

“Our goal is to have shovels in the ground no later than alumni weekend, which is April 25-27,” he said. 

Diedriech said the university currently is working on putting together a list of alumni and donors to contact, and is working on plans for alumni and donor events around the country and in Fulton — including the President’s Dinner in October. He said he is confident the school will be able to meet the deadline, adding that the Mabee grant will play an invaluable role in meeting its goal.

“I just can’t underscore the importance of this enough,” Diedriech said. “This $1 million for us is a transformative gift. It’s really going to spur our parents, our alumni, our friends to really rally around and get this campaign finished.”

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