Close to 300 people gathered on the Newman University campus June 10 for an historic moment in the university’s 83 years of existence – the ceremonial groundbreaking for the new Bishop Gerber Science Center.
The groundbreaking marks the official beginning of construction for the new, 51,400 square foot, two story science center, which will replace the Heimerman Science Center. The new science center is named in honor of the Most Rev. Eugene J. Gerber, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Wichita, a longstanding advocate for Catholic higher education and Newman University.
The new science center has been the centerpiece of the $30 million Facing Forward – A Campaign for Newman University, which was designed to raise funds for the science center and to upgrade existing facilities in Eck Hall, which houses the university’s nursing and health sciences programs. Funds raised through the Facing Forward campaign will also provide for student scholarships and the university’s endowment.
Several Newman officials and campaign leaders took part in the groundbreaking ceremony, including Tarcisia Roths, ASC of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, the founding and sponsoring order of Newman University and the campaign’s spiritual co-chair. Also on hand was campaign honorary co-chair the Most Rev. Carl A. Kemme, Bishop of the Wichita Diocese, who provided the Invocation, blessed the ground and worksite, and gave the concluding blessing.
Newman President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D. remarked at the ceremony on the strong partnership Newman has with the Adorers and the Diocese, which reaches back to the university’s founding.
“I find the Bishop Gerber Science Center to be a wonderful kind of culminating piece representing the partnership between the Adorers of the Blood of Christ and the Diocese of Wichita,” Carrocci said. “We are unique in our founding as being sponsored by an order of sisters but the first president being the Catholic superintendent of schools, Monsignor McNeill.”
Other guests who took part in the ceremony were campaign honorary co-chairs Kathy and Patrick O’Shaughnessy; campaign co-chairs Melissa and Bart Grelinger, M.D., and Nicholas Dondlinger of Dondlinger & Sons Construction, general contractor for the project.
The groundbreaking also included several Newman officials who made remarks and turned over shovelfuls of dirt, including Board of Trustees Chair Linda Davison; Vice President for University Advancement J.V. Johnston; Vice President for Finance and Administration Jennifer Gantz, MSA; Professor of Chemistry and Dean of the College of Undergraduate Studies David Shubert, Ph.D., and Associate Professor of Nursing and Associate Dean of Nursing and Allied Health Jane Weilert, Ed.D.
The Bishop Gerber Science Center is scheduled to be completed by August 2017 in time for the beginning of the Fall 2017 semester. For more information, visit www.newmanff.com, or contact Clark Schafer at 316-942-4291, ext. 2164, or [email protected].
Watch video highlights at the top of this article from the groundbreaking ceremony.