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OU Awarded Mabee Challenge Grant


Ottawa University has received notification from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation of Tulsa, Okla., regarding approval of a $730,000 challenge grant for renovation of the Mabee Center on the Ottawa campus, as well as a major new addition to the building. These projects totaling $4 million make up Phase II of the University’s “Advancing the Experience” capital campaign.

Meeting the Mabee challenge will ensure the completion of the planned renovation and construction. The revitalization and enhancement of the Mabee Center will add greatly to the functionality and ambiance of the Ottawa campus, according to Acting Vice President for University Advancement Janet Peters.

“The Mabee Foundation has had a strong legacy of making a lasting impact here at Ottawa University,” Peters said. “Their past support has been incredible. As we embark on this new project that will positively affect so many students on this campus, we truly appreciate that Mabee has once again provided OU with a challenge grant opportunity.”

The Mabee Center, a multipurpose athletic facility built in 1980 and first renovated in 1999, will receive a total facelift to include new flooring, wall treatments, heating and air conditioning, bathrooms and other major improvements. In addition, a new 8,750-square-foot Varsity Performance Center will be constructed on the north side of the existing building. The state-of-the-art weight and fitness facility for all student athletes will be equipped with cardio equipment, free-weights, lifting racks, indoor sprint turf and specialized equipment for the newly added men and women’s powerlifting teams.

“We are truly grateful for the Mabee Foundation’s continued support of Ottawa University, its mission and vision,”  Dr. Reggies Wenyika, president of Ottawa University’s Kansas campus, said. “The Mabee Center project is a major component of our capital campaign that enhances our ability to provide a holistic education that prepares students for future success and significance.”

The $9 million “Advancing the Experience” capital campaign for Ottawa University’s Kansas campus serves to invest in future growth, while enhancing the mind, body and spirit of its current students with a focus on academics, athletics and activities. The campaign’s strategic campus improvements and additions will ensure that the University can continue to live out its mission and realize its future vision.

Phase I of the campaign included construction of a new press box and home for the Braves Athletic Hall of Fame and renovation of the Larry D. Peters Auditorium in the Administration Building to serve as home for the Braves esports team. These projects were completed in in early October and late September 2019, respectively.

“We are very grateful to the Mabee Foundation for their generous and continued support for our mission and campaign,” University Chancellor Kevin Eichner said.  “This element will further undergird our exceptional athletic programs, which have grown enormously in number and student participation over the past several years. For health, safety, and competitive reasons, this newly renovated and constructed facility will serve us well for many years to come and keep OU on the cutting edge of sports training and sports medicine, the latter of which is a fast-growing major with our students.”

Completion of Phase II’s Mabee Center projects will set the stage for Phases III and IV. In the campaign’s $1.2 million third phase, the existing Braves Athletic Performance Center housed in the former Myers Library building will be vacated and that space will be renovated into a new student activity center complete with a large open lounge, a fitness center, two table gaming and gathering spaces, a quiet lounge, an e-gaming gallery and two large meeting rooms. Phase IV of the campaign will involve $500,000 in improvements to the Hull Center for Athletics, which will include retrofitting the current campus fitness center and the vacated hall of fame space from Phase I into new state-of-the-art allied health classrooms.

Another phase of the “Advancing the Experience” capital campaign is currently underway at the Dick Peters Sports Complex. Work started in early December 2019 on the $1 million project to install new turf to the baseball infield, the entire softball field and the multipurpose practice field. This phase is targeted for completion by Feb. 1, 2020, in time for the start of the baseball and softball seasons.

Ottawa University has received several generous gifts from the Mabee Foundation over the past 25 years. Previous Mabee challenge grants received were part of the campaigns that included improvements to Ward Science Hall in 1992, the construction of the Hull Center for Athletics in 2002, and the Gangwish Library project within the Gibson Student Center in 2012.


About Ottawa University

Founded in 1865, Ottawa University prepares professional and liberal arts graduates for lifetimes of personal significance, vocational fulfillment and service to God and humanity as a Christ-inspired community of grace and opening inquiry. Ottawa University is a comprehensive, not-for-profit educational institution, serving more than 4,000 students through its residential campuses in Ottawa, Kan., and Surprise, Ariz., and adult campuses in Overland Park, Kan.; Phoenix and Queen Creek, Ariz.; Brookfield, Wis.; and online. Visit for more information.

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