Hundreds of guests, including new students, educators, spiritual leaders, and city and University officials, were in attendance August 27 as Benedictine University at Mesa became the first four-year Catholic university in Arizona. The historic moment was celebrated with a blessing and ribbon-cutting of Benedictine’s new academic building, Gillett Hall, at 225 E. Main St. in downtown Mesa.
Gillett Hall is named in honor of Willis Gillett, chairman of the Benedictine University Board of Trustees. It has capacity for nine classrooms, including an interactive classroom with non-traditional, flexible furniture, a nutrition lab featuring kitchenettes with residential appliances, a computer lab, chapel, “Spirit Store,” which will sell Benedictine merchandise, a library center and a community room.
Benedictine University at Mesa offers seven bachelor’s degree programs in a lecture-free, collaborative, interactive and technology-enhanced format, including a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Bachelor of Arts in Theology, Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Bachelor of Business Administration in Management and Organizational Behavior. A minor in Religious Studies is also available.
Benedictine University is helping to prepare students for an increasingly China-centric global community – as well as travel to and business and research in China – by offering a minor in Chinese Language (Mandarin) with an option for a Chinese Culture track.
The Chinese Language minor will foster students’ awareness of the increasingly global and multi-linguistic nature of society, allow them to connect specific issues in Chinese culture and history to current trends in Chinese society, and prepare them to communicate effectively in the context of another culture.
The minor will also allow students to explore more study abroad opportunities in China. The University has formed 14 partnerships with Chinese universities. Benedictine offers master's degrees in Business Administration and Management Information Systems in China and has approximately 1,000 alumni from these programs.
A Chinese Language minor could also complement current majors such as International Business and Economics and Political Science as well as other majors where communicating across cultures is essential.
The vacant area between the Kindlon Hall of Learning and the Coal Ben will eventually be home to a high-tech, multi-story business building that will offer students a new level of learning.
In addition to classrooms, study areas and offices, the building will house the College of Business' internationally-recognized doctoral programs in Organization Development and Values-Driven Leadership. Tentative plans include a 600-seat auditorium which will facilitate lectures and symposiums by some of the leading business thinkers in the world.
The building will also enhance Benedictine's partnerships with universities and corporations around the world, and attract top-tier students and educators.
Visitors passing through Benedictine's 108-acre campus now have a central location to begin their visit—the new Neff Welcome Center. Work on the $2.5 million center on the eastern edge of the school's Lisle campus was completed last September.
The Neff Farmhouse, one of the oldest stone structures in DuPage County and which until recently had been used as a home by the school's retired caretaker, was incorporated into the center.
The 2,700-square-foot welcome center also includes event space, freshman admissions offices, a conference room and a brick patio for University and alumni events and gatherings. The center fully extends the University's welcoming spirit to all visitors.
The Benedictine University football team, which won back-to-back Northern Athletics Conference titles in 2010 and 2011 and made consecutive appearances in the NCAA Division III football championships, has a new place to call home.
The Borsellino Family Football Center, a 4,100-square-foot locker facility made possible in large part by the generosity of the Borsellino family of Oak Brook, opened last August as part of the renovation of the Dan and Ada Rice Center.
The new locker facility, located on the west side of the building and taking in part of the old racquetball courts, includes 130 hardwood lockers, a "chalk talk" multimedia area, a team showering facility and a "Champions Room" honoring past Eagles greats.
Benedictine University is always striving to provide students with the tools to succeed. That includes offering majors that fit the needs of business, health and education. Two recent additions are noted here.
The Business Analytics major is designed to address the growing demand for people with analytical skills and strong backgrounds in business fundamentals. Students who major in Business Analytics receive thorough exposure to analytics-related principles and the hands-on tools used in today's business. Classes focus on how analytics is applied to managerial decisions in business.
The program prepares students for careers in corporate management across most business functions, management and data analysis, analytical consulting, financial planning, project management and investment banking.
An emphasis on health and physical fitness in the United States has created a large number of rewarding careers in collegiate or professional athletics, strength and conditioning, personal training, corporate fitness, and at community organizations like park districts or the local YMCA.
Benedictine now offers a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Exercise and Sports Studies major that provides students an opportunity to enter those areas without completing a teacher education program. The major can also lead to graduate study in Clinical Exercise Physiology.
The Exercise and Sports Studies major includes courses in sports administration, sports psychology, sports law, drug use and prevention, the care of injuries, current issues in health, and a wide range of topics related to health and fitness.
The strategy for the classic game of Monopoly has been extensively studied, but last summer Benedictine mathematics professor Anthony DeLegge, Ph.D., and his student researchers wanted to know if those strategies are still the best ones to utilize when playing an increasingly popular form of the game utilizing "Speed Die."
The College of Science Summer Research program offers Benedictine students the opportunity to expand their knowledge, hone laboratory skills and gain hands-on experience by working closely with faculty on a variety of scientific research projects.
Research opportunities are also available at nearby Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratories. This experience allows students to gain expertise in a lab setting, expands their understanding of classroom work and enhances their resumes.
The dream of the late Fr. Michael Komechak, O.S.B., was finally realized August 18 when the art gallery that bears his name on the fifth floor of Kindlon Hall opened to family and guests for a private reception.
Fr. Michael began collecting art in 1951 when he paid $10 for a portfolio of screen prints. One of the earliest and biggest art patrons at Benedictine was Komechak’s mother, Elizabeth, who donated more than $100,000 to purchase and frame various pieces.
The Benedictine art collection now contains more than 4,000 original works of art plus hundreds of fine arts posters. The collection includes sculptures, paintings, drawings, photographs, calligraphy, ceramics and other craft and folk art pieces. Much of the collection is made up of original prints.
The first public showing of art at the gallery features some 73 pieces that were favorites of Fr. Michael. It is the first of many rotating art exhibitions that will be held at the gallery, which will also provide space for the University’s fine art students, lectures and gatherings for local art aficionados.
Benedictine University's golf teams now have access to a state-of-the-art, indoor training facility that allows student-athletes to practice and perfect their skills all year long at the new $600,000 Bartlett Golf Center in the Dan and Ada Rice Center.
The facility, made possible in part by the generosity of Bill and Gayle Bartlett, contains interactive golf simulators complete with 12-foot-wide screens and two 360-degree systems of infrared beams that provide exact and immediate ball-flight statistics with live and fluid 3-D environments and multiple camera angles.
The center is primarily used by the golf teams, but is also available to all students through student activities and physical education courses. The center also includes a putting green and chipping area—making it a truly exceptional facility.
Library users want quiet reading and study areas, while also looking for a place to meet and socialize. They want computers to access timely information and cutting-edge research, but they also want to be able to get their hands on printed resources not available online.
Members of the Benedictine community now have such a facility at their fingertips. The new Benedictine University Library opened its doors last fall following completion of a three-month, $3 million construction project.
The project included the buildout of the lower level of the Kindlon Hall of Learning—which now features four new high-tech classrooms—and a reconfiguration of the second and third floors of the Kindlon tower into a reading room, an interactive area and an information technology help center.
Seeking to further enhance its reputation as a leading provider of outstanding academic programs and to achieve its mission of graduating students who are good citizens and good stewards of society, Benedictine began its expansion into Mesa, Ariz., this fall.
The University, which will become the first Catholic institution of higher education in Arizona, began business operations at a service center at 51 E. Main St. and will offer classes beginning September 2013 at 225 E. Main St., both located in downtown Mesa.
Initial degree offerings will include a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Bachelor of Arts in Theology, Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Bachelor of Business Administration in Management and Organizational Behavior, in addition to a minor in Religious Studies.
The University unveiled a new $6.7 million fitness center, training facility and office project in October 2011, part of the much broader renovation and revitalization of the Dan and Ada Rice Center.
The fitness facility encompasses more than 11,000 square feet, and includes a 7,500- square-foot lower level dedicated to cardio and circuit training and a 4,200-square-foot strength training mezzanine that contains both free weights and strength training equipment to cater to a variety of users.
The project also included the construction of an advanced training facility featuring six training tables and hot and cold water tubs, coaches' offices and classrooms, the Benedictine Hall of Fame and a conference room overlooking the rejuvenated Rice Center Arena.
For nearly 20 years, the electronic sign on the corner of Maple Avenue and College Road has been passers-by's first visual contact with the University. The sign provided information on open houses, sporting events, visiting lecturers, concerts and community news.
The sign also reminded students that they may be running later to class, but would not be too cold once they stepped outside their car.
But parts for the aged sign were increasingly difficult to find, necessitating the construction of a new LED message center that will continue to provide passers-by, students, staff and visitors with the latest University and community information.
The St. Benedict Chapel, which for years was located in the lower level of the Krasa Center, has moved to the fourth floor of the Kindlon Hall of Learning where it shares space with the new, expanded offices of University Ministry.
The added space allows University Ministry to better meet the spiritual needs of the Benedictine community while providing a permanent home for the Center for Mission and Identity, now under the full-time direction of Assistant to the President for Mission Integration Alicia Tait, D.M.A., and the Office of Intercultural Education led by Carol Swett.
The chapel offers daily Mass at noon in addition to other prayer services and adoration times throughout the year.