Capital Campaign raises funds for Wellness Commons and other projects

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By Fleming Smith

Executive Editor

Sewanee’s largest capital campaign in history, “Stronger Truer Sewanee,” aims to raise $250 million by June 30, 2019 to support a range of projects, including the Wellness and Recreation Commons, development of the Sewanee Village, and moving the School of Theology to Georgia Avenue.

The main priority of the campaign is the Wellness and Recreation Commons, which will be located in the area of the Sewanee Book and Supply Store. The University plans to move most bookstore functions to the Sewanee Village.

The new two-story facility will host a fitness center as well as a campus store, cafe, and multi-purpose rooms on the upper floor. The first floor will hold the Lee and Dorothy Thomas Wellness Center, relocating the health and counseling features of Sewanee’s current Wellness Center, as well as the Student Outing Program and a bike shop.

“We have an all-in total project cost of $15 million, and we’ve raised about $8 million so far on that project,” said Vice President for University Advancement Jay Fisher (C’79). “I would hope that construction would be complete on the Wellness and Recreation Commons by the end of the campaign.”

Another feature of interest in the campaign is fundraising for the School of Theology’s move to Georgia Avenue on central campus to the location of the Bishop’s Common and St. Luke’s Chapel.

“Right now, for the building, we’ve raised about $7 million. We’re still working on what the [total] budget will be,” said Fisher regarding the School of Theology’s new facility. According to a November newsletter on the campaign, the center will include a 250-seat auditorium for use by the entire University.

“There are still some unknowns with the School of Theology cost. We hope funding would be complete by the end of the campaign, but the project itself may not be complete by that date,” Fisher explained. He hopes construction can begin by 2019.

Other plans in the works include a revamped downtown area, the Sewanee Village. A 2016 plan identifies the need for more housing opportunities and business development as well as more trails and bike-friendly paths.

“The plans for the Sewanee Village are long-range plans. They’re really plans for the next 10, 20, even 50 years. But we have raised funds for the planning and development of the future of the Sewanee Village,” Fisher said. His office also raised money for the recently implemented Domain Dollars program.

The Capital Campaign includes four pillars: “Ensuring Access, Value, and Opportunity” for scholarships and internships, “Reinforcing Academic Distinction” for faculty support and support for academic programing such as the first-year program, “Enriching the Sewanee Experience” through improvements to the Sewanee Village and athletic facilities, and “Educating Tomorrow’s Church Leaders” with fundraising for the School of Theology.

“Most major gifts, a gift of $50,000 or more, would be directed towards one of the major pillars of the campaign,” Fisher explained. The annual fund, now called the Sewanee Fund, accepts lesser gifts that will be used towards the school’s operating expenses of the year. Endowed gifts are placed into an account so that the University can spend the interest.

“The campaign priorities are set by the University administration. Right now, the University Commons is a very high priority for 2017. We’re really focusing on scholarships, we’re really focusing on raising money to support the new Office of Civic Engagement, the pre-business program, and our pre-health initiative, along with raising funds for the School of Theology,” said Fisher regarding the funds’ allocation.

As of February 3, Sewanee has raised more than $186 million towards the campaign’s goal. Some of this count comes from planned gifts, which will not be received until a donor’s death. Even after the campaign’s books close, the University will still receive money from the campaign for these various projects for years to come.