MNU news

MNU Awarded $1 Million Mabee Foundation Challenge Grant

Mabee Learning Commons Building at MNU.
University News
The Mabee Learning Commons at MNU was built with assistance from the Mabee Foundation in 1985.

MidAmerica Nazarene University announced the award of a $1 million challenge grant from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation toward the construction of the new $20 million Cunningham Student Center – the centerpiece of MNU’s Bright Futures campaign. The student center will become the hub of campus activity housing student services, dining, spaces for learning, leadership development and community engagement.

“We are extremely grateful for the longstanding support we have received from the Mabee Foundation,” says university president, Dr. David Spittal. “This represents the university’s fifth Mabee Foundation challenge grant. You can see evidence of the Foundation’s support in key areas around campus such as the Bell Cultural Events Center, the Cook Center athletic facility and the Mabee Learning Commons.

The construction of the new Cunningham Student Center represents a transformative opportunity to intentionally design a facility to serve as a resource to attract the best and brightest students while meeting the needs of 21st Century learners,” Spittal says. “We see this as the central campus space where classroom knowledge will find real-life application as students’ leadership skills begin to emerge due to increased engagement.”

The 50,000 square-foot facility will be a place where students, faculty, staff, alumni and the external community can easily participate in a variety of activities. The new student center will offer better-designed community space to dine, collaborate, learn and socialize. Plans include:
•    Collaborative learning and meeting space;
•    The Merc (campus store);
•    Interior and exterior lounge and study spaces;
•    Conference center;
•    Fitness facilities;
•    Expanded dining services. 

The new center with its modern amenities will elevate the student experience on campus. The current 52-year-old facility was built for a much smaller student population and is pressed beyond capacity. 

“I’m so thankful for the support of the Mabee Foundation,” says Bright Futures Campaign Co-chair Tim Buchanan. “As we have learned from our past campaigns, we believe a challenge grant from the Mabee Foundation provides the necessary momentum and impetus to propel the Student Center campaign to a successful conclusion. Now is the time for friends of MNU to provide a tangible expression of support for the campaign.”

The funding from the Mabee Foundation will be awarded to the university as a challenge grant requiring the remaining $11 million to be raised in cash and multi-year pledge commitments by January 8, 2020. 

“This is a fantastic opportunity providing momentum for donors to join us with an investment in future generations,” says Dr. Jon North, vice president for university advancement. “Just as sacrificial giving built our current campus, the same kind of visionary commitment to future generations is in play today.” 

For more information on the Cunningham Student Center and the Bright Futures campaign, visit

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Summer 2019

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