Major Gifts Announced at Groundbreaking for $18 Million Classroom Addition

Kay Callison and Jeannette Nichols were welcomed by Chancellor Leo E. Morton
Kay Callison and Jeannette Nichols were welcomed by Chancellor Leo E. Morton

$1.25 million in gifts celebrate new Miller Nichols Learning Center, adding 950 classroom seats

Officials at the University of Missouri-Kansas City broke ground for the new Miller Nichols Library and Learning Center, which will add 950 new classroom seats to the growing university, and a dramatic new south-facing entrance to the new building and the existing Miller Nichols Library.

Jeannette Nichols with UM System President Tim Wolfe

Jeannette Nichols with UM System President Tim Wolfe

In celebration of the expansion, officials announced two major gifts to the university, totaling $1.25 million, at the groundbreaking ceremony.

A gift of $1 million from the Miller Nichols Charitable Foundation was presented by Kay Callison, Miller Nichols’ daughter and President of the foundation. A gift of $250,000 was presented by Jeannette Nichols. These gifts will be used to renovate the third and fourth floors of the Miller Nichols Library.

A University of Missouri System bond initiative, approved by the Board of Curators in 2010, is funding the $18 million project. The transformation of the library through the addition of Roobot the Robot and the ongoing renovation of the affiliated spaces is an example of the power of public and private partnerships, according to UMKC officials, who expressed gratitude to the Nichols family and the Miller Nichols Charitable Foundation for their ongoing advocacy for the library and all who use it.

“This will be a campus resource like no other. This will be a place where students and community members will come for instruction and advice; where they can study and write and collaborate; where our fundamental values of teaching, learning and scholarship are practiced – and revered,” said Gail Hackett,executive vice chancellor and provost of UMKC. “Adding much-needed space for both classroom learning and individual study demonstrates this university’s commitment to our number-one goal: student success.”

A light rain failed to dampen the spirits of the guests.

A light rain failed to dampen the spirits of the guests.

University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe also spoke at the ceremony.

“This university is a key component of this community’s goals. We see that in the central role that UMKC plays in the ‘Big Five’ initiatives identified by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. Education, knowledge, innovation, entrepreneurship and artistic excellence are the keys to Kansas City’s future, and UMKC will play a vital role in realizing that bright future,” Wolfe said. “Enrollment growth at UMKC is a critical need. To meet the demands of the future we envision, we need UMKC to deliver more: more well-trained, well-educated professionals; more research discoveries; and more future leaders. The additional classroom space and access to the Miller Nichols Library that this facility will bring is a necessity for that growth.”

Callison talked about her family’s generations of commitment to education as good for business.

Artist rendering of Miller Nichols Learning Center addition. Click on image for larger view.

Artist rendering of Miller Nichols Learning Center addition. Click on image for larger view.

“My father would be gratified to know that the Miller Nichols Library is vitally important to the UMKC campus and scholarly researchers everywhere,” Callison said. “From the first Nichols venture into building planned neighborhoods, we have been mindful of the vital role that education plays in the establishment and expansion of healthy communities. That’s why we support UMKC, Kansas City’s university, because it has for many years been a strong partner for neighborhoods and for our city. I know that the people of Kansas City continue to see UMKC as a vital asset, and will support the campus and the Miller Nichols Library for the benefit of generations to come.”

Jeannette Nichols also attended the groundbreaking ceremony, where UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton announced her gift.

“For generations, the Nichols family has supported UMKC in many ways,” Morton said. “In recognition of this gift, the main auditorium in the new Learning Center will be known as the Jeannette Nichols Forum. Thank you, Jeannette, for your generous support of our educational mission.”

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