Rockhurst University is breaking ground this week on a $25 million classroom building that’s expected to incorporate the latest technology for the 3,000 students attending the Catholic university on Troost Avenue.
The 68,000-square-foot building, scheduled to open in fall 2015, will be named after the Very Rev. Pedro Arrupe, the late and highly regarded superior general of the Society of Jesus, the order of priests better known as the Jesuits, who operate Rockhurst.
“Father Arrupe called the society to the service of faith and the promotion of justice,” said the Rev. Thomas B. Curran, president of Rockhurst. “His call clearly resonates with the message from Pope Francis.”
The project is the latest phase of a $54 million master plan launched in 2010. The campaign began after the college received a $10 million gift, the largest in its history, from an anonymous donor. A $9 million, 423-space parking garage was completed at 51st Street and Troost in 2012.
The next phase calls for converting a 500-seat auditorium into a theater with production facilities to accommodate events on the 55-acre campus.
The new classroom building was designed by Gould Evans Architects and will be built by J.E. Dunn Construction Co. Its decor will include a large artwork by Anne Lindberg that will express the seven pillars of a Jesuit education through a series of stone panels.
The building also will house the McMeel Family Gallery, named for John McMeel, one of the founders of the Kansas City-based Andrews McMeel Universal newspaper syndication company. The gallery will have signed comic art by artists such as Garry Trudeau of Doonesbury fame.
Trudeau will speak Thursday as part of the groundbreaking celebration at 7:30 p.m. in the Convocation Center on campus. His talk, “Wisdom and Leadership Depicted Through Humor,” is free and open to the public, but registration is requested. Call816-501-4199 or go to rockhurst.edu/trudeau
The classroom building will include the latest educational technology, including interactive screens powered by mobile devices and modular classroom options.
“This new building is designed to highlight the principles at the core of a Jesuit education,” said Matt Heinrich, associate vice president for facilities and technology at Rockhurst. “The idea behind the entire building is to optimize collaboration and student engagement.”
Rockhurst decided to move forward with the project after successfully completing a $25 million fundraising campaign that included a $500,000 challenge grant from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation in Tulsa, Okla.
“The construction of Pedro Arrupe S.J. Hall represents a significant step forward for Rockhurst University,” Curran said, “proving once again that we are in the city for good. We are grateful for our generous community of donors.”