Morningsider Fall 2020 Feature: Sunsetting Vision 2020
Sunsetting Vision 2020
“Walking through Morningside today is a totally different experience than 10 or 20 years ago, and the beauty of campus has become a source of great pride.” - Jim Walker, Lifetime Member of the Morningside College Board of Directors
As Morningside celebrated its 125th anniversary at the close of 2019, the college also achieved another incredible milestone - the completion of its most ambitious and successful fundraising campaign in history, the “Vision 2020 Campaign: Transformation II.”
Over eight years, Vision 2020 raised more than $69 million, far exceeding a $50 million goal intended to remodel, redesign, and reorient the campus to put students at its center. Though a pandemic prevented a celebration of the incredible generosity of those who made this transformation possible, the dramatic changes seen throughout the campus tell the remarkable success story of the campaign.
“This campaign has been an incredible achievement for Morningside and all who love this place,” said lifetime Morningside College board of directors member Jim Walker ’70. “We set out knowing this fundraising effort was truly going to set the stage for Morningside’s future, but I don’t think any of us fully appreciated how spectacular the change would be. Walking through Morningside today is a totally different experience than 10 or 20 years ago, and the beauty of campus has become a source of great pride.”
Vision 2020 was publicly launched in October 2012. In the year leading up to the campaign, Morningside used a quiet phase to secure more than $30 million toward its $50 million goal. This allowed work to begin on campus almost immediately, with a $1.5 million renovation of Eppley Auditorium leading off second phase construction in 2013.
By 2014, Morningside had raised more than $43 million and broke ground on Buhler Rohlfs Hall and the Krone Center, the first new academic buildings on campus in 40 years. Buhler Rohlfs was constructed to house the Sharon Walker School of Education, the Nylen School of Nursing, and the Regina Roth Applied Agricultural and Food Studies program, all of which had specific technological needs the building was designed to address. The Krone Center was constructed to provide critical space to support academic and student success.
The $13 million needed to construct the two buildings and the skybridge connecting them was led with naming gifts from philanthropists Walter A. Buhler (1935-1998) and Lucy (Yoshioka) Buhler, ’56, a long-time board member; Roger J. Rohlfs, ’51, who passed in 2011 and was a college teacher and software designer for Boeing; and Wallace “Wally” A. Krone, ’55, who died in 2018 and was a restaurant owner and entrepreneur.
By 2015, Morningside completed a $14 million renovation of its largest and oldest residence hall, Dimmitt Hall. Leading gifts were made from the Kind World Foundation and Norman Waitt, Jr., ’86; Walter A. and Lucy Y. Buhler, ’56; Tom Rosen, ’70; and the Andrea Waitt Carlton Family Foundation.
Perhaps most impressive, though, was that Morningside had reached its $50 million goal almost four years early, though an additional $19 million for the endowment and other small facilities projects would be raised in the subsequent years.
“The people associated with Morningside are one of the things that make this place so special. The connection alumni and friends have to Morningside has allowed us to accomplish remarkable feats, including Vision 2020,” said President Reynders. “The work of both this campaign and the previous have transformed the campus over the last 20 years, and that has left Morningside well-positioned for the future.”
The catalyst for this dramatic transformation was part of a larger vision set in the early days of Morningside College President John Reynders’ leadership. When Reynders arrived just before the turn of the millennium, the college was facing serious financial and enrollment challenges. While working to reframe campus culture around ongoing planning, Reynders and campaign chair Jim Walker also successfully launched and completed “This is Our Moment: The Campaign for Morningside College – Transformation I” from 2001-2009.
“This Is Our Moment” generated more than $45 million and was critical to beginning Morningside’s physical transformation. Some of the projects resulting from the campaign included construction of Hilker Campus Mall, the Buhler Outdoor Performing Arts Stage, the Kline Pergola, Lags Hall, the Waitt & Poppen Apartments, the Jensen Softball Complex, and the renovation of the Yockey Family Community Room, the Wikert Dining Hall, the Rosen-Verdoorn Sports Center, and Elwood Olsen Stadium.
“Early in my time here, I commented that Morningside was a gem that simply needed a little polish. The work completed through these two campaigns has allowed us to restore the luster to our buildings and grounds, and ensure that the look of campus reflects how remarkable Morningside has always been,” said Reynders.
With two history-making campaigns completed and the end of President Reynders' tenure now in sight, a single element of Morningside’s campus has remained untouched: the front entrance.
Currently, the campus does not have a clear entry point from Morningside Avenue and is somewhat undistinguished from the rest of the neighborhood. A proposed plan would create a more distinct entry point and complete the campus’ physical transformation. Vice president of advancement Kari Winklepleck ’03 hopes to roll out the one- year mini-campaign focused on the effort in early 2021.
“The front entrance was always intended to be the finishing touch on our campus master plan, and it’s fitting that it will ultimately coincide with the end of President Reynders’ tenure in 2022,” said Winklepleck. “These last two decades have been truly transformational. That’s largely thanks to John’s leadership. This final touch will be a great way to honor his vision.”
Meanwhile, the results of Vision 2020 can clearly be seen and enjoyed throughout campus.
“We are fortunate to have such a supportive community of alumni and friends. Their incredible generosity made it possible to transform Morningside and its future,” said Winklepleck. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the Morningside community over the next two years to complete the campus master plan and celebrate John’s legacy.”
Video Credit: Nick Buth '11
A special thank you to the campaign committee members:
- Jim Walker '70, Campaign Chair
- Mike Bennett, Academic Village Chair
- Lucy Buhler '56, Dimmitt Hall Chair
- Skip Perley, Annual Scholarship Fund Co-Chair
- Curt White '76, Annual Scholarship Fund Co-Chair
- Ron Yockey '70, Eppley Auditorium Chair