Arts center construction is Tabor’s ‘big’ story

<p>Hutton Construction sets the steel rafters in place for the roof of the $16.2 million Shari Flaming Center for the Performing Arts rising on the Tabor College campus. The photo was taken in mid-December.</p>
<p>Hutton Construction sets the steel rafters in place for the roof of the $16.2 million Shari Flaming Center for the Performing Arts rising on the Tabor College campus. The photo was taken in mid-December.</p>
The biggest story in 2016 at Tabor College is easy to identify. If you visually scan the campus you can’t help but notice the huge construction project taking shape in the former Tabor Park.

In the words of President Jules Glanzer: “The big story for the year was ‘It finally got started.’”

“It,” of course, is the construction of the $16.2 million Shari Flaming Center for the Performing Arts, a project dreamed about for decades and delayed somewhat in recent years by the challenging fundraising campaign to actually build it.

“This past year of waiting, we raised an additional $2 million and trimmed the building by $1 million,” Glanzer said. “That was one of the big things—that we finally got (construction) started.

“We really hope to have dedication in 2017 yet,” he added. “I would love to see ‘Messiah’ as the first event, but we just have to wait and see.”

Generous contributions

Another achievement on Glanzer’s list is related to the first one: Tabor received the $1 million donation from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Founda­tion to help fund the building project.

Tabor received a challenge grant in 2014 from the foundation that if Tabor could raise $8 million for the new arts center, Mabee would award college with $1 million as soon as construction begins.

“Anytime you get a seven-figure gift, that’s a significant thing,” Glanzer said.

He said the college intends to raise about $1 million more during the construction phase to be able to complete the project debt-free.

Student decisions

Beyond the major brick-and-mortar project, Glanzer cited the “significant spiritual, vocational and life-focus decisions made by students” as an achievement aided by Divine involvement.

“That should always be No. 1, that’s the goal,” Glan­zer said. “But the stories we hear about students, and what has happened to them as part of the Tabor experience, still has to be at the top of the list of accomplishments for us.

“All we do is provide the environment and the setting for it to happen, and the Lord is the one to make the changes,” he added. “Our job is to say yes to him.”

Another significant highlight during 2016 was the generosity of its financial supporters. Glanzer said donors contributed $4.4 million during the 2015-16 school year. In calendar year 2016 alone, 1,753 donors contributed over $4.1 million.

“People have given so incredibly,” he said. “A year ago, more than $3 million had come from the ZIP code 67063. I think now it might be up to $3.2 or $3.3 (million) from 67063. That’s pretty significant.”

Success in athletics

Glanzer said success in athletics during 2016 was another huge highlight for the college as five teams qualified to compete at the national level during the calendar year:

• Men’s basketball for the third consecutive year;

• Women’s basketball for the second consecutive year’

• the baseball team, which also won the KCAC title for the fifth straight season;

• the volleyball competing in the NAIA opening round and national tournament for the first time in school history;

• football winning the KCAC championship and competing in the NAIA Football Championship Series for the second consecutive year.

“Rusty Allen is the architect of all of this,” Glanzer said of the college’s vice president for intercollegiate athletics and enrollment management. “We have followed his plan and it has worked.”

A related highlight in 2016 was the completion of the Penner Clubhouse, an indoor practice facility for the baseball program. The $250,000 project was jumped-started with a substantial lead gift from Lee and Leanna Penner of Aurora, Neb.

“It is really a neat thing,” Glanzer said about the advantage the facility provides for the baseball program.

In addition to the success of athletes and teams in athletic competition, Glanzer lauded their academic achievements as well: 15 of the 18 athletic teams Tabor fields were recognized as NAIA Scholar teams.

“These are not stupid people who can’t do anything else,” Glanzer said. “These are gifted, smart individuals.”

What makes the athletic and academic achievements even more significant is that Tabor competes at the national level against much larger schools.

“At a national tournament, our number is always the smallest enrollment,” Glanzer said.

Faculty accomplishments

Glanzer cited the achievements of three faculty members as a highlight during 2016.

“The most prominent one is that Shin-hee Chin has international acclaim,” he said, noting her selection as one of six artists to exhibit work in The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C.”

He also affirmed Jessica Klanderud, assistant professor of history, for her leadership with students that resulted in a history exhibit titled: “Program of Persever­ance: Tabor College Foot­ball.”

“Over homecoming, we had over 500 people visit the exhibit,” Glanzer said. “We haven’t had anything, other than the football game itself, make that kind of draw. It was students and the prof who developed it. Professor Klanderud did a fabulous job with that.”

Douglas Miller, professor of biblical and religious studies, published a book in 2016 titled, “Getting a Life: Living Your Call,” based on a capstone class he teaches. Glanzer said the book summarizes the distinctive of Tabor College.

“That’s why I consider it a major accomplishment,” Glanzer said. “We now have in print what we want to have happen to our students before they graduate—to define a vocation and not just a job.”

Glanzer said he has used the book as a recruiting tool with parents and for fund­rais­ing.

“If you want to know what’s the difference between Tabor and any other school, right here it is,” he said. “This is the mission.”

Leadership transitions

One notable, but challenging highlight, were transitions in administrative leadership roles during the year. Kirby Fadenrecht stepped down as chief financial officer after 35 years, and was succeeded by Nor­man Hope, longtime member of the business faculty.

“Kirby was faithful and served Tabor well,” Glanzer said. “Moving on after he has left, that isn’t easy. His service has been a significant accomplishment.”

In November, Tabor announced the hiring of Mark Posson as director of business programs at Tabor College Wichita School of Adult and Graduate Studies. He will oversee program development, curriculum, adjunct faculty, student care, assessment and business partnerships in Wichita.

Two new programs

On the academic front, Glanzer cited the start of two new programs during 2016. One program is a masters of science in nursing, and the other is Faith Front, a program that serves high school youth interested in vocational ministry. It was funded by a $600,000 grant from the Lilly Foundation.

“It’s basically a travel camp,” Glanzer said. “Instead of going to a place and hunkering down, it’s going to different places with high schoolers to think about vocational ministry.”

Enrollment access

One last additional highlight Glanzer noted was a fraternal covenant agreement Tabor signed with Evana Network, described on its website as “a ministry community of pastors and churches with a heart to see lives transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our common ground is in Ana­baptist and Mennonite theology and our common vision is to live out Jesus’ Great Commission to make and grow disciples.”

Glanzer said the agreement has opened doors for student recruitment.

“It gives us access to churches and students east of the Mississippi,” he said. “We don’t have an access over there right now. So the churches and the people in places like Pennsylvania and Ohio who are a part of Evana, we are now attending their conferences and have access to visit their churches.

“We provide them some theological training that they like, and they give us access.”

The agreement may change the one disappointment Glanzer identified about 2016: flat enrollment after several years of increase.

“Tabor lives in a paradox,” he said. “Right now, our financial position is as good as it’s ever been—$40 million worth of assets, a $20 million budget and only $6 million of debt. That’s a nice situation.

“But our cash operations are as tight as tight can be,” he added. “When you don’t have more students every year, that means we don’t have the money to do what we wanted to do out of operations.”

Glanzer said he hopes the completion of the fine arts center will have the kind of impact on recruiting students interested in the arts that new sports facilities have had on students interested in athletics.

“Right now we have about 70-80 students in performing arts and I’d like 250,” he said. “Then it would be nice to have another 250 come because of academic program that we have. Those are things we’re working on to kind of chose some signature programs (to promote).”