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Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, is embarking on a project to build a classically designed library building, with architecture reminiscent of Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
President Stephen D. Minnis announced the library at the 51st Annual Benedictine College Scholarship Ball, a Top-10 Kansas City fundraising event that this year was bigger than ever.
A thousand attendees of the ball set a new record. Honorees former Benedictine College Board Chair Jack Newman and his wife Kathy spoke movingly of the college’s dedication to Our Lady and its business acumen and student speaker Solomon Wallace stole the show.
But the biggest surprise of the night was a digital fly-through of the new library, whose fundraising efforts have included a gift from former Kansas City Southern CEO Michael Haverty and his wife Marlys that puts the library $10 million away from breaking ground.
It’s no accident that the building is reminiscent of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Minnis said the library “contains a replica of the Assembly Room found in Independence Hall in Philadelphia — where they debated the Declaration and wrote the Constitution.”
He said Benedictine College students — as well as students from schools in the region “can learn about the history, traditions and values of our country through Mock Constitutional conventions or Debates, allowing us to carry out the urgent task of preserving and handing on the principles of liberty and self-government to future generations.”
The plan is also to show the connection of the building to the school’s Catholic identity. “The central building contains a museum-quality space for historic displays to tell the story of this country’s history and its connection to the Catholic intellectual tradition,” he said.
“Our students will enter this building under the loving eyes of Our Lady and will be surrounded by classically inspired beauty, echoing the timeless importance of the liberal arts education that is the foundation of the Benedictine College academic program,” he added.
Minnis said that Benedictine College has a new national profile.
“Whereas most state schools and small liberal arts colleges will have 75% of their students from their home state, only 20% of our students come from Kansas, making us a national school with a national reputation,” he said.
The Fall semester this year showed the school’s new reputation, citing several events:
Along with Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, Dr. Jacquelyn Rivers of Harvard University and Rev. Eugene Rivers, who have worked closely with the college, were in attendance. Reverend Rivers is a nationally known pastor and Dr. Rivers is a professor at Harvard University and the Executive Director of the Seymour Institute in Boston.
“Benedictine College has never been stronger, and the future has never looked brighter,” Minnis said. “We are at the dawn of a new age — a new Benedictine College that embraces the things of the past with a new vision for the future.”
He ended his pitch for the library with, “Please join us as we preserve the priceless Benedictine legacy of learning and follow their exhortation—Ut in Omnibus Glorificetur Deus — That in All Things May God Be Glorified.”
See President Minnis’s speech below or at YouTube. Go to minute 12:31 for the library fly-through.