JCCC receives $10 million lead gift for major campus transformation initiative

November 13, 2017


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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – The Johnson County Community College Foundation has received a $10 million lead gift from the Sunderland Foundation as the college embarks on the largest campus transformation project in its history. The donation, dubbed The Sunderland Challenge, is a matching gift to encourage additional support throughout the region for this major initiative.

“We’ve had a positive relationship with Johnson County Community College for many decades and fully support the college’s efforts under its campus transformation initiative to help build our future workforce,” said Kent Sunderland, president of the Sunderland Foundation. “Just as the initiative is the largest for the college, this is the largest gift in the history of our Foundation. We are pleased to have it support the students at JCCC and encourage others to join us.”

Sunderland Family and JCCC build strong foundations

The Sunderland Foundation was established in 1945 by Lester T. Sunderland, who served as president of the Ash Grove Cement Company for 33 years and was a leader in the cement industry. For more than seven decades, the Foundation has focused on supporting bricks and mortar projects, awarding grants to nonprofits in the Kansas City region and other areas where the Ash Grove Cement Company does business.

Ash Grove Cement Company and the Sunderland family have supported JCCC with student scholarships for more than two decades and participated in past capital projects. JCCC honored James Sunderland, former president and chairman of Ash Grove, for community leadership and named him Johnson Countian of the Year in 1992.

Student needs guide campus facilities improvements

With an eye toward career training needs for students, the Sunderland’s $10 million challenge gift will support the new Career and Technical Education Center. The challenge comes early in a private funds drive the JCCC Foundation has initiated to support the JCCC board-approved $102.6 million multi-year campus improvements.

“Our facilities must be innovative, flexible and functional,” said Dr. Joe Sopcich, JCCC president. “This plan provides a blueprint for the future, for making wise decisions about building and renovation projects with one goal in mind: ensuring that we keep our students' needs front and center as we invest for the future.”

Sopcich added, “The Sunderland Challenge and its matching gift will help the college make changes to the learning and engagement spaces that are relevant to our students and community.”

“We’re altering our campus landscape to cultivate innovative learning and engagement opportunities for students, while integrating the interactive needs of our award-winning faculty and staff,” said JCCC Board of Trustee chair, Greg Musil. “From a fiscal standpoint, it’s been a goal of the board to complete our campus transformation initiative without raising the mill levy on taxpayers and without increasing tuition for our students.”

Musil added, “This challenge gift from the Sunderland Foundation serves as a significant step toward achieving our goal.” 

Project includes two new buildings and renovations

The new career and technical education building will be located west of the Gym. At just under 70,000 square feet, the facility will house many of the industrial technology programs currently located in the Arts and Technology Building (ATB). This includes automotive technology, electrical technology, automation engineer technology/industrial maintenance and heating, ventilation and air conditioning training. The new building also will include space for continuing education for industrial programs to respond to workforce needs.

What is known as the Fine Arts and Design Studios will be located on the campus' east side near the Carlsen Center, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art and the Wylie Hospitality and Culinary Academy. This new arts and design building is projected to be approximately 37,000 square feet and will contain those fine arts programs currently housed in the ATB building, along with filmmaking and graphic design.

Other highlights of the initiative, which are part of the project’s second phase, include:

  • Renovation and expansion of the ATB and Welding Laboratory Building (WLB) locations to further strengthen industrial technology offerings such as construction management and welding;
  • Creation of an enhanced “campus front door,” which includes a re-facing of the Student Center, upgrades to the athletics facilities, and re-grading of surrounding roads and parking;
  • Consolidation of five JCCC academic resource centers to the first floor of the Billington Library for better student access; and
  • Renovations of space throughout campus into active learning classrooms.

JCCC selected design and construction professionals to work with college stakeholders in planning and constructing the buildings and making the improvements. BNIM has been hired as the lead architect for the two new buildings and renovations to the ATB and WLB buildings. Peckham Guyton Albers & Viets, Inc. (PGAV) has been hired as the architect for the enhanced new “campus front door,” consolidation of the resource centers, and improvements to athletic facilities. JE Dunn Construction will oversee all construction. The college anticipates all buildings and renovation projects to be completed by 2020.

For more information about this facilities project, contact Chris Gray at 913-469-7623. If interested in joining The Sunderland Challenge, contact Kate Allen at 913-469-3835.

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