Cover Story 

The Miracle on 18th Street

On April 22, over 200 guests gathered in Donnelly’s new academic building for the long-awaited Campus Dedication celebration that marked the official completion of Donnelly’s Transformations Master Plan. The Transformations capital campaign raised $34 million over 10 years for three phases of campus renovation projects. Phase I, completed in 2013, was Donnelly's first new construction project in 50 years: the Community Event Center. Phase II, completed in 2017, included renovations to Marian Hall, which houses Donnelly’s nursing programs. Phase III included the demolition of the former Providence Hospital Tower and construction of a new 72,000-square-foot academic building featuring state-of-the-art learning environments, 60-seat Blessed Seelos Chapel and Academic Resource Center. This final phase, completed in 2022, also included a new parking garage, quad green space and a futsal field.

Since its founding in 1949, Donnelly’s commitment to keeping a private Catholic college education affordable has led to a series of hand-me-down buildings to keep tuition low and offset increasing costs of higher education for students. However, in 2008, the College’s leadership made the decision to invest in first-rate infrastructure to make Donnelly’s learning environment top tier for students. The campus has come a long way since those initial discussions over a decade ago.

The Campus Dedication program featured blessings of the new chapel and academic building, as well as an open house reception and guided tours by Donnelly students and staff. Program speakers included Richard Flanigan, Jr., former board chair (2014-2018); Nestor Zuluaga, current board chair; Sister Esther Fangman, OSB, prioress at Mount St. Scholastica and board member; Commissioner Harold Johnson, Jr. of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County; Joe Reardon, president/ CEO of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and board member; Dr. John Romito, ‘66, Transformations Campaign chair and board member; Monsignor Stuart Swetland, president of Donnelly College; and Most Rev. Joseph F. Naumann, D.D., Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and board member.

The speakers marveled at the progress made in transforming the physical campus to sustain the unique mission and vision of the College. “Sister Jerome [Keeler, OSB] is probably looking down beaming with pride to see the school she founded 73 years ago – continuing to serve those who would not otherwise be served,” said Sister Esther Fangman, OSB.

Often referring to Donnelly as “the Miracle on 18th Street,” Msgr. Swetland reflected on how grateful he is to see this campaign come to fruition. He gave special thanks to the Transformations Campaign committee, annual fund donors, campaign investors, community partners, renovation project vendors and architects as well as the staff and faculty that kept the College running through major renovations and construction. “Just like we want to incarnate our values and incarnate diversity, we needed to incarnate first-class service to our students,” he said. “And this is what our building does for us. It’s an outward sign of an inward reality... And as we bless it today, it will be that sign and source of grace to all who come here.” For more information about the Transformations Master Plan, visit campaignfordonnelly.com. 

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