Amazing Success Noted at Benedictine College Scholarship Ball | Benedictine College

Amazing Success Noted at Benedictine College Scholarship Ball

Monday, March 02, 2015

A surprise million-dollar gift for the renovation and expansion of Westerman Hall, the science and engineering building, was an appropriate conclusion to another successful Benedictine College Scholarship Ball on February 28. Annually one of the largest and most successful fundraising events in the Kansas City metropolitan area, the Scholarship Ball again saw more than 800 attend and raised over $550,000, despite a major winter storm that had moved in during the day. Emceed by John Holt, news anchor at Fox4 television, the night was dedicated to Fr. Gerard Senecal, OSB, former president of the college who recently passed away. The evening featured the announcement of a new endowed professorship, a gift to fund an All-Steinway School designation in Music, and the groundbreaking on a new $7 million Student Recreation Center.

“Thanks to our event co-chairs Lene Westerman and Stephen and Joan Charbonneau, we have record sponsorships and record attendance here tonight,” said Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis.

In his state-of-the-college address, Minnis talked about Benedictine’s success in achieving the goals set forth in the school’s strategic plan, Benedictine2020: A Vision for Greatness. He said the vision would be achieved in three ways, educating America’s future leaders, building for greatness, and developing a world-class faculty. To gauge how the plan is working, he went over the successes of the past year.

“This past year we achieved the largest enrollment in our history; 1,825 full-time undergraduates,” he said. “This is an 80% increase in ten years; 18 straight years of enrollment increases; and we are now the largest private college or university in Kansas.”

He went on to mention a new scholarship for National Merit Finalists and a designation by the Steinway Company as an All-Steinway School.

“There are 2,500 colleges and universities in America and there are only about 160 Steinway Schools,” Minnis said. “Being designated an All-Steinway School demonstrates a commitment to the arts and a commitment to excellence.  The Steinway School honor greatly enhances a school’s academic reputation.”

The designation is possible through a donation by Rick and Kathie Weishar Dalzell which will allow for the purchase of additional Steinway pianos and the construction of state-of-the-art humidity and temperature controlled piano studios.

Referring to building for greatness, Minnis talked about the construction of two new residence halls, Lemke Hall and Our Lady of Guadalupe Hall, as well as the construction of a new chapel, the St. Juan Diego Chapel, on the campus. He talked about the renovation and expansion of the Dining Hall and the addition of a clock tower in the center of campus. And he mentioned the growth to the north with the addition of land donated by the Asher family. That land now contains the Asher Sports Complex, complete with Olsen Stadium and Laughlin Field for baseball and a new softball facility.

He went on to mention the need for an adequate student recreation center on campus and announced that fundraising efforts for such a facility had been successful and the board had authorized the construction of the new building to begin in March.

“This 40,000 square foot facility is much needed on campus,” Minnis said. “It will provide a fitness room and three courts—one of which will be turfed—as well as an elevated track.”

Finally, he talked about the need for the expansion and remodeling of Westerman Hall, the science and engineering building.

“We believe that faith, morality and ethics are just as important in the sciences as in every other part of our lives,” said Minnis. “And that is why it is so important to train future doctors, engineers and scientists in a place like Benedictine College that understands the essential role of faith, morality and ethics in the sciences.”

And for developing a world-class faculty, President Minnis noted that Benedictine College is one of only three colleges name a Top 20 school by both U.S. News & World Report and the Cardinal Newman Society. Minnis also announced the addition of a new endowed professorship, the Robert Dehaemers Endowed Chair of Nursing, named in honor of the man who donated his estate to the Benedictine College Nursing Program when he passed away last year. The first recipient, Dr. Lynn Connelly, was also announced and recognized.

In addition to performing on both guitar and trumpet with a jazz ensemble during the cocktail hour prior to the program, student speaker Alexander Del Curto, impressed the crowd with his speaking ability. The first Air Force ROTC cadet to graduate from Benedictine College, Del Curto talked about his desire to serve others and how that was enhanced while on campus.

“In researching colleges, I sought an institution that would train its students in a variety of academic perspectives, so as to act rightly in the service to humanity,” he said. “I discovered a college in Atchison, Kansas, which strived to follow the example of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica, preparing its students to look beyond themselves and live in the service of others.”

Each year, the Ball features the presentation of the Cross of the Order of St. Benedict to a select set of honorees. Benedictine College established the Cross in 1969 as a way to recognize alumni and friends who have supported charitable institutions, provided civic or religious leadership, and demonstrated professional excellence.  This year, the prestigious award went to Steve ’77 and Peggy McBride, who are the second generation of McBrides to receive the Cross, and Dr. Jim ’77 and Linda Bongers, who made the surprise million-dollar announcement. Read more.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.