Our New Day at Western Theological Seminary

sq-daniels-danaBy Dana Daniels ‘16

Associate Director of Development

 

“For capital campaigns, we recommend appointing a campaign manager.” My ears perked up when I heard this advice during a presentation from The Focus Group, the firm selected to provide campaign counsel to WTS.

Throughout my tenure in advancement, I’ve heard repeatedly about the energy a capital campaign generates, so serving as the manager for such an adventure intrigued me. I quickly expressed my interest and have been working in this capacity for the last 18 months.

Most of the work I’ve done has been behind-the-scenes: organizing a feasibility study, assisting with the creation of campaign materials, and serving as the liaison between the seminary and our campaign advisors.

Last May, after multiple revisions to arrive at a building design best suited for the seminary, the Board of Trustees approved the Our New Day capital campaign, and I am eager to share about this ambitious and necessary project.

Western Theological Seminary’s “new day” has been steadily dawning over the last twenty years. Our enrollment is approaching 300 students—more than double what it was in 1996—and is still growing. We have attracted talented faculty members, experienced greater diversity in our student body, and responded to the changing needs of the church with innovative programs and partnerships. In other words, Western is thriving and has a bright future.

Despite this good news, we face challenges. Our present facility, built in 1955, has deferred maintenance that cannot be postponed any longer. Also, to secure a healthy financial future for WTS, our endowment must grow.

This campaign, with two distinct projects, will transform the seminary’s physical plant and increase its endowment resources. The $25 million Our New Day campaign is the largest in the seminary’s history, and we fully recognize that it will not be accomplished without participation from people who care about what we do.

The Building Project—a $15 million goal

The original impetus for considering a building project was the need for a new library. After years of dealing with water problems that damaged both the structure and its contents, we learned that the library building’s issues would make its renovation cost prohibitive. As we imagined other possibilities, a comprehensive project affecting 70% of the seminary building developed. Instead of only replacing a library, what emerged is a plan that includes two areas of new construction in addition to significant renovation to parts of the existing building.new entry

The first area of new construction is located at the front of the seminary. A new and more grand entrance will be constructed providing a well-defined “front door” to WTS. The two-story addition will house administrative offices for several departments and open directly to the reception desk making navigation of the seminary easier and more welcoming for our guests.

Extensive renovation will refresh several classrooms, upgrade the Commons with good lighting, sound systems, and (finally) air conditioning, and replace old windows with ones that have double panes and proper insulation. We will also expand and update the Commons’ kitchen which is used daily to provide meals to the hungry in our community.

interior of new libraryThe second area of new construction is located off the back of the seminary. A revitalized Semelink Hall will become a world-class learning center designed around the way people study and teach today. The learning center will be a welcoming, open space with collaborative settings that facilitate our growing student body and provide space for new ways of learning to come. This project will bring the seminary’s facilities into compliance with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), making WTS accessible to all.

We have secured $10.5 million in pledged commitments toward a cost of $15 million for the new construction and renovations. The Board of Trustees has approved beginning construction when we reach 90% ($13.5 million) in pledges. In the coming months, we hope to secure several more leadership gifts with a goal of breaking ground in the spring of 2017. After the leadership phase is complete, we will welcome wider participation in raising the necessary funds for the building project.

The Endowment Project—a $10 million goal

Although no blueprints exist to generate enthusiasm for the endowment project of the campaign, it is equally important to Western’s future. The $10 million addition to the endowment will allow us to provide more scholarships as we grow our student body, attract top-notch scholars to our faculty, and maintain our existing and new facilities.

We have already secured over $8 million toward our goal to raise $10 million for the endowment. These commitments have come through both cash pledges and planned gifts. Counting planned gifts toward the capital campaign is a unique feature of the endowment project. The campaign provides a great opportunity for donors to think intentionally about including Western Theological Seminary in their estate plans.

Of the $8 million raised for the endowment, more than $6 million represents gifts that will be realized in the future. If you are interested in discussing a planned gift to the campaign, I am eager to visit with you.

As the Our New Day campaign continues, I look forward to sharing progress reports. In the meantime, would you pray for this campaign and the ministry of Western Theological Seminary? We are grateful for the support and encouragement provided by those who care about WTS and her service to Christ’s church.

 

For more information about the campaign:  Contact Dana Daniels at dana@westernsem.edu or 616-392-8555, x155

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