$50 Million Capital Campaign Launched

Southern publicly announced the Campaign for Excellence in Faith and Learning on April 28 at the end of President Gordon Bietz’s legacy celebration event in Iles P.E. Center.

Components of the $50 million goal—nearly triple the amount of any previous campus campaign—include construction of a new student center and other facility improvements, increased endowments for scholarships and research, the continued greening of campus, and annual giving. Nearly $32 million in cash and pledges has already been raised during the campaign’s leadership phase, which quietly began in 2013.

student centerAfter witnessing the support of these initial donors, Southern’s Board of Trustees voted in February to finalize the campaign goal of $50 million and fine-tune the ideas originally envisioned. University leadership is moving forward in confidence that this plan addresses Southern’s needs in a timely and cost-effective manner, allowing for the greatest benefit to students.

“The Campaign for Excellence in Faith and Learning is mission-centered and therefore student-centered; our plans and needs flow from that,” said Chris McKee, ’88, trustee and campaign co-chair alongside Terry Shaw, ’84.  

The legacy event and campaign’s public launch have been strongly connected since 2015, when Bietz announced his pending retirement and made known a strong desire to witness the student center’s groundbreaking before he left office. Bietz was completely unaware plans were in the works to name it after him.

“I managed to hold my emotions in check fairly well until hearing the student center announcement and seeing a rendition of the building,” Bietz said.

The Bietz Center for Student Life, projected to open in fall 2018, will be located between McKee Library and Hickman Science Center. Herin Hall’s layout and age make the empty structure unsuitable for remodeling; its removal facilitates this new construction, estimated at more than 40,000 square feet and costing $13 million. Interior plans include considerable amounts of flex space for student organizations and Life Groups to hold meetings.  

If the Bietz Center for Student Life is Southern’s brick-and-mortar centerpiece of this campaign, endowments are its less obvious but equally critical counterpart. In order to continue providing the Southern Experience, endowment funds for scholarships, faculty research, departmental lectureships, and mission endeavors must increase. Although the campaign component’s goal is already close to being reached, Southern hopes to exceed expectations and significantly impact students for years to come.

God has blessed this effort in amazing ways while touching hearts to give generously. To reach the remaining goal will require a deep and continuing commitment from alumni, employees, and friends. For more information, or to make a gift toward the Campaign for Excellence in Faith and Learning, visit southern.edu/webelieve or call 423.236.2829. 

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