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You are Invited!

To a Dedication & Celebration at Western Theological Seminary

Thursday, December 6 at 11:30 AM in the new Cook Library, housed in the new Jack and Mary DeWitt Learning Center

The public is invited to a dedication and celebration of the new and renovated facilities at Western Theological Seminary. Please join us as we thank those who have given generously, and rededicate ourselves to God’s calling for us to “prepare Christians called by God to lead the church in mission.” The morning will include a short worship and dedication ceremony, followed by appetizers and tours of the new building. We hope you can celebrate with us!

Big changes are coming to the library!

We are currently in the process of migrating to a new library system and preparing to move into our new building. To help us transition smoothly, the library will be closed to the public from now until the Grand Opening of our new building in October. We will also be getting a new name at that time:  Cook Library.

If you have a WTS login, you may still access our online resources here.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, and we appreciate your patience. If you have any questions about library services during this transition, please contact allison@westernsem.edu

In February, I informed the Board of Trustees that after much prayer and deliberation, Nancy and I have decided that my time as president is coming to an end. This coming school year of 2018-19 will be my last year as president.

There are many things that I want to get done. This won’t be a victory lap! This will be a very intentionally focused period.

First, I want to bring to completion our new building, fully funding the project. When we asked the Board for permission to start this project, I said to them, “I promise I will stay as president until that building is up, the flags are flying, and every debt is paid.” I’m happy to say we are really close.

I want to continue to support the work of Dean Alvin Padilla and the rest of the faculty as they make enormous strides in our Hispanic Ministries Program. Every population census you can possibly read will tell you that by 2050, the largest cross-section of our population will be Hispanic. It was such a gift to us when Alvin Padilla agreed to come and be our academic dean, and I’m so grateful for that.

I now have permission to say that Eddy Alemán has been nominated to be the new General Secretary of the Reformed Church in America. Eddy is Latino, a graduate of WTS, and also a member of our Board of Trustees. What great energy and synergy we have to do the work that is coming!

I also want to both bless and help the faculty as we move toward important hires over the next year. Several faculty members have left or will be leaving, and we need new people to join our team. I am eager to keep this stunning record of great young scholars who are Reformed, evangelical and ecumenical.

I will work very hard in the next year continuing to make this a place that helps men and women flourish in ministry. All the hard-fought efforts over the years that have opened the doors to women in ministry have recently met with resistance. We’re not going to allow that. We’re going to keep working hard until we enter in to that vision of the prophet Joel: On that day I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit.

Last but not least, I want to ensure in the midst of our ever-expanding diversity that we have a clearly gracious, generously articulated Reformed Identity. I’m going to ask the Board of Trustees to call forth a task force to help us articulate what we mean when we say Reformed identity, so we can be expansive and welcoming but also clear about who we are and what we intend to do. This is no time to be ashamed of our Reformed identity, but to embrace it and move into the future.

I intend in the name of Jesus to give my best to all of these things, and I will, I promise you, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord our labor is not in vain. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.

With six shovels full of dirt, the construction of the new Jack and Mary DeWitt Learning Center and the renovation of WTS officially began on May 9.

While our present reality includes the storage of thousands of books, the clearing of an entire floor of the library, and the well-ordered chaos of relocating the offices of 40 employees in a month, let’s turn our attention away from today to what the seminary will be in 2019 when the project is completed.

Holland Mayor Nancy De Boer speaks at the May 9 groundbreaking ceremony.

The crown jewel of the campus will be the Jack and Mary DeWitt Learning Center, housing the entire Cook Library collection and providing plenty of collaborative and contemplative learning spaces. The Learning Center will dominate the eastern side of the building, and just outside, further east, will be a large green space where the old Cook Center for Theological Research stood. Those sitting on the second floor of the new Learning Center will have an unobstructed view of the Hope College campus. A patio on the north side of the building will be a popular gathering spot in temperate weather, and fireplaces inside will provide warmth during the winter months. The entire library collection will be housed in the new building, and there will be plenty of space for the collection to grow.

Associate Director of Development Dana Daniels passes out safety vests during the May 9 groundbreaking ceremony.

On the south side of the seminary, a new two story administrative wing will rise, providing a clear entrance to the building. The president’s office, the business office, student services, advancement, communications, and educational technology offices will be housed in the new administrative wing. The entryway will line up with the existing reception desk, and the second floor of the new wing will adjoin the second floor of the atrium. President Brown’s office will be by the front door of the seminary, providing maximum visibility and availability to the community.

Renovated classrooms will dominate the hallway that runs south of the new Learning Center. New windows and floors will be visible throughout the building, and at the western end of the seminary, a newly renovated kitchen and Commons area will make providing meals for guests much more efficient. The Community Kitchen (a soup kitchen that operates daily out of the seminary) will finally have adequate food storage and—at long last—the Commons will be air-conditioned.

With this project, every inch of the original seminary building from 1954 will be renovated and made functional for the decades to come.

Not so visible but of vital importance will be improvements to the seminary’s infrastructure, including significant upgrades of the mechanical systems. As a result of the project, the seminary will be much more energy efficient, and the entire building will meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Architecturally, the building will be one cohesive piece, all in the same Georgian Colonial style that has dominated the corner of 13th and College Avenue since the mid-1950s.

That’s 2019, and a whole lot of dust is going to fly between now and then. By the time you read this, demolition and construction will have begun, and a new, exciting future for Western will be emerging.

What does this all of this mean for returning and new students?

While we all anticipate the new and valuable improvements to the learning experience and environment, you may rest assured that the 2017-18 academic year will be robust with challenging and formative learning with the same variety of courses taught by the same esteemed faculty. Most courses will be taught in the existing classrooms in the main building and students will continue to have access to the resources of the library with the same flexibility as before. While the evidence of construction will be hard to avoid, it is our goal to ensure a hospitable and effective learning environment for all of our students.

Where will students find staff and faculty who are key to their daily concerns? The offices of those individuals with whom students interact on a regular basis will remain easily accessible:

Main Floor Atrium:

Admissions Office (Poppen/English/Kingdom-Grier/Schipper)

Financial Services (Donkersloot/Eshenauer)

Ed Tech Offices (Bailey/Ehmann/Vlisides)

Book Store (Huisman)

Second Floor Atrium:

Academic Affairs Offices (Padilla/Nordé/Brogan/Hamm)

Faculty

Garden Level (down the stairs from the Atrium):

Student Services and Formation for Ministry (Small/Bush/Miguel Cipriano/Smith/Swier)

Human Resources and Title IX Concerns (Perez)

Faculty (Komline)

Director for Hispanic Ministries Program (Ocasio)

Library Mezzanine:

President’s Office (Brown/Munroe/Zylman-TenHave)

Main Floor Library:

Library Staff

4th Floor Library:

Th.M. Program Administrator (Sundararajan)

Writing Studio Director (Baron)

5th Floor Library:

Office of Advancement (Bast/Buikema/Daniels/Honholt/Housman/Wernlund)

Communications (Capotosto/Rice)

Journey/Continuing Ed. (Housman/Sotok/VanderMolen)

We will continue to worship each day in Mulder Chapel. For the next several months, the Community Kitchen has relocated to the United Methodist Church and to Hope Reformed Church, both just a few blocks away. We hope to have the Community Kitchen back on campus in early 2018.

It is our hope that all of the planning, strategizing, excitement and anticipation will override any of the inconveniences and commotion we might encounter as this project moves along. There will be drawings, photos, and regular updates to encourage us on the days when we might become weary.

We will look forward to your input as we learn and work together!

 

 

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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