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Challenge met, Bethel to break ground for Academic Center this spring

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – On March 15, Bethel College informed the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation of Tulsa, Okla., that Bethel donors had met their latest Mabee challenge.

The resulting funds are for the transformation of the old Science Hall into a new, state-of-the-art Academic Center.

The challenge, given by the Mabee Foundation a year ago, in April 2010, was to raise $921,424 in gifts and commitments in one year in order to receive $725,000 from Mabee. Alumni and friends not only met but exceeded the goal, giving or pledging more than $1 million.

“More than 850 donors contributed to the Academic Center project,” said Sondra Bandy Koontz, vice president for advancement. “We are grateful to all of them for making this long-desired dream a reality.”

She also noted that Bethel College donors “have never left a Mabee challenge on the table. Bethel’s record is safe.”

This was Bethel’s sixth successful Mabee Foundation challenge, the most recent until now being for the sports stadium complex, completed in 2005.

The old Science Hall, constructed in 1925, is the second oldest building on campus after the Administration Building. Earlier this year, with a successful conclusion to the challenge grant on the horizon, Dalene White led a group of volunteers in clearing the building of furniture.

Construction will begin this spring, with an official groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for Saturday, May 21, at 4 p.m. as part of Alumni Weekend activities. The event will take place near the old Science Hall and is open to the public.

The Academic Center – comprised of the current building plus an addition on the east side – will house the departments of Bible and religion, business, history, mathematics and computer science, nursing, social work and teacher education, including classrooms, faculty offices and labs.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2010-11 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States and is in the first tier in its category in the U.S. News & World Report annual ranking of “America’s Top Colleges” for 2011. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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