The participants during the ground breaking ceremony for the new library on the campus of Benedictine College.

Ground Breaking – Classical Library Project Begins

The official ground breaking ceremony for the new college library at Benedictine College marked the first step in the school’s march toward the future. The ceremony took place at the construction site as the former library was being razed on September 23, 2023.

Scroll to bottom of story for fly-through video.

Hundreds watched as participants turned the first shovels-full of dirt for the state-of-the-art, 54,000 square foot facility, scheduled for completion in 2025. The Benedictine College Raven Regiment Marching Band, the Sons of the American Revolution Color Guard, and the Benedictine College Men’s Choir all added to the festive atmosphere of the occasion.

“Today marks an historic moment in the college’s history as we break ground on a new library,” said Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis. “After years of planning and design, this library will take the college to another level.  It is truly a place of learning fit for one of the great Catholic colleges in the country.”

The new library will have three times the study space of the old facility, more volumes from the collection available in the stacks, several presentation rooms, a reading room, a rare books room, a coffee shop for community-building, and much more. Part of the building will include a museum-quality replica of the Assembly Room in Independence Hall in Philadelphia. This will be available as a learning lab for students of all ages. It corresponds to Benedictine College’s Center for Constitutional Liberty, which will also be housed in the new building.

“The new library will reflect our vision to apply our mission to the world by equipping our students to transform culture in America,” said Dr. Kimberly Shankman, Dean of the College, noting that the Benedictine Order transformed the world before and preserved knowledge through the Dark Ages.

You can watch Dr. Shankman’s speech here.

“The classical design of the building also reminds us of our important commitment to equip our students for the future by providing them with not only the latest discoveries and innovations, but also with the great intellectual heritage of which we are stewards,” she said. “Questions of beauty, truth, meaning and purpose are hallmarks of the classical and Catholic intellectual traditions, and by immersing themselves in these traditions, our students emerge better able to evaluate and respond to the challenges that will face them.”

Jeffrey Schremmer, a junior Political Science major from Pittsburg, Kansas, and the president of the Student Government Association, also addressed the crowd at the ground breaking.

“The library we’re breaking ground on today isn’t just a focal point of community and scholarship at Benedictine, it is a message to current and future Ravens, as well as to the country, that the founding principles of our nation are alive and well in America’s youth,” he said.

Schremmer said there is a growing sense among young people that the movement away from natural law, the common good, and civic virtue and toward radical individualism must be turned around and his generation must be the ones to do it.

“The library project will not only provide us with space to learn and grow, but will also serve as a testament to the vision of working to transform the culture and nation we will inherit,” he said.

You can watch Jeffrey Schremmer’s speech here.

The college’s founding institutions were involved in the event, with Sister Kathleen Flanagan OSB, from Mount St. Scholastica Monastery and the Co-Director of the Library, offering the invocation and Abbot James Albers OSB, of St. Benedict’s Abbey, doing the blessing and closing prayer.

A host of VIPs participated in the ground breaking, including lead donors Michael and Marlys Haverty, Mike and Theresa Murphy, and the children of Rebecca and the late David Moritz: John David and Leslie Moritz, Kristine Bradford, Michelle Paris, and Jennifer Summers. Current Chairman of the Benedictine College Board of Directors, Mike Kuckelman, also participated, as did two former Board Chairs, Bob Reintjes and Tom Hoenig.

“There is no better symbol of our commitment to academic excellence and scholarship than an investment in a new library,” said President Minnis. “This new facility will embrace and enhance our mission to educate our students within a community of faith and scholarship.”

Watch a fly-through video of the planned new library:

Benedictine College

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is honored to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, the best private college in Kansas by The Wall Street Journal, and one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. Benedictine College is dedicated to transforming culture in America through its mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.