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Aug. 26, 2011

Congrats to Wesleyan on yet another great project

OUR VIEW • The Daily Republic

Progress continues at Dakota Wesleyan University, where construction is soon to begin on an impressive project that will bring a new health sciences center to the campus. School officials on Thursday announced a project to construct the $11.5 million building. Ground will be broken Sept. 30.

The four-story, 48,000-square-foot building will contain chemistry, biology and physics labs; two undergraduate research labs equipped with state-of-the-art equipment for student use; four nursing simulation labs; classrooms for nursing, athletic training, the sciences and mathematics; and faculty offices.

The project is being funded mostly through matching $5 million gifts from Paul and Donna Christen, of Huron, and Fritz and Glenda Corrigan, of Edina, Minn. A gift from the family of Ron Gates Sr., in the name of the late Arlene Gates, is making a difference, too.

The last two or three decades have been busy at Wesleyan.

As we noted last year when Wesleyan turned 125, other small, church-backed colleges have closed in the region — Huron University, Yankton College, Dana (Neb.) College and Westmar (Iowa) College, for instance — in recent years. Meanwhile, Dakota Wesleyan has repeatedly pulled progressive projects out of its hat and because of that, has remained stable, viable and relevant to today’s students.

The result has been rampant physical growth and development, of which the city — the entire region — should be proud.

The Christens helped begin Wesleyan’s building boom in the mid-1980s, when their monetary gift was instrumental in the construction of the Christen Family Wellness Center, the headquarters for Dakota Wesleyan’s athletics department. In the years since that building’s construction, Wesleyan has seen constant physical improvements. Among them: Renovation projects to the nursing department, Allen Hall, Dayton Hall and the Wagner Chapel; and building projects for the Sherman Center, Jackson Plaza, student apartments and the McGovern Library.

Dakota Wesleyan, with fewer than 1,000 students, is the epitome of progress. The much-deserved credit goes to the current administration, under President Robert Duffett, and its current and recent trustees, under whose watch most of Wesleyan’s top projects have happened, along with all of the faculty, staff, students and supporters.

Dakota Wesleyan University is an integral part of this city. Running a small, privately funded university is not easy, as evidenced by the demise of those other regional institutions. Yet Wesleyan appears to be thriving. That’s good for everyone.

We offer congratulations to Dakota Wesleyan and commend the school, its backers and boosters for keeping an eye toward the future.

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Last updated: 8/29/11