by Steve Buckner
Special to The Leaven
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Thanks to sturdy fiber and balky ceremonial scissors, it took celebrants three tries to cut the ribbon at Donnelly College’s Marian Hall grand re-opening on Jan. 25 here.
“That was for the Trinity — one for the Father, one for the Son and one for the Holy Spirit,” said Msgr. Stuart W. Swetland, president of Donnelly College, which drew laughter from the crowd.
The recently completed project increased the building’s usable space from 12,000 square feet to 25,000 square feet, Msgr. Swetland said, and extended the building’s life by 25 years. The project represented Phase II of the college’s revised campus master plan.
The renovations added nine new classrooms, six faculty/staff offices, a computer lab and a collaborative study space. Plus, it modernized the elevator, added sprinklers and improved mechanical systems throughout the building.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann blessed the building.
“It truly is amazing to see the transformation of the building,” he said. “Donnelly College is the source of great pride to the archdiocese. We believe it’s one of our most important ministries.
“It’s 68 years in its ministry, and we believe the best years are in front of it.”
Monsignor Swetland read a passage from the Gospel of Matthew that spoke to the mission of Donnelly: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. . . . Just so, your light must shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Mt 5:14,16).
Marian Hall serves as home to the college’s nursing and Gateway to College programs. The edifice, which once was Providence Hospital, has been transformed from an “institutional” feel to a “collegiate” feel, said Msgr. Swetland.
“We really want to create that sense, as we all need, that this is a space to discuss the great ideas together, to pray together and to recreate together. And we want the space to reflect that,” he said.
Craig Gaffney, 2018 chairman of the board of directors for the Kansas City, Kansas, Chamber of Commerce, was also in attendance.
“What’s happening here — this downtown renaissance of Kansas City, Kansas . . . with Donnelly College is just amazing,” he said.
Area companies playing key roles in Phase II were MC Realty, Burns & McDonnell and J.E. Dunn Construction.
Up next for Donnelly College is the ambitious Phase III of the master plan. The $19.5 million Phase III features the construction of a three-story, 72,000-square-foot academic building.
This building will include state-of-the-art learning environments, updated technology, central student support services, an academic resource center and a 60-seat chapel. The target date for completion is fall 2020.
Donnelly College currently serves more than 1,000 students, Msgr. Swetland said, including 500 from Wyandotte County. These figures include high school students enrolled in classes for college credit.