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Tabor College breaks ground for new Center for the Arts


 Audience members involved in actual groundbreaking

Tabor College news story

With volunteers from the audience pulling a vintage horse-drawn sulky plow, Tabor College broke ground May 2 for its long-awaited fine arts center. Tabor College is the Mennonite Brethren college located in Hillsboro, Kan., with a second campus in Wichita, Kan.

“This is a great day in the history of Tabor College,” said President Jules Glanzer. “The generations have been waiting for this moment and you have made this happen. You and hundreds of others like you have come together here. You’ve given your hard earned dollars, your appreciated assets, your life savings. Some have given out of abundance; some have given out of great sacrifice.

“From the beginning this has been a project of the people,” he added. “God has smiled down on us and brought us to this day. So we want to honor all those who have helped make this moment happen.”

The dream to build this type of performing arts building began nearly 50 years ago.

“Today is a new day,” said Larry Nikkel, president emeritus of Tabor. “For today we stand in almost the same spot we stood 35 years ago to break ground for the Wohlgemuth Music Education Center, but today is different. God has heard our prayers and blessed our efforts with the resources to assure that the dream so long deferred is now a dream becoming realized.”

Tabor has raised $14.4 million of the $16.2 million Signature Campaign goal. The remaining $1.8 million will be used to endow the facility, meet the annual fund needs and pay for campus enhancements. Of the $14.4 million, $10.2 million is specifically designated for the Center for the Arts. An additional $2.8 million needs to be raised to build a facility that will meet the needs of Tabor's visual and performing arts departments.  

Susan Koslowsky, steering committee chair and alumna of Tabor, said the groundbreaking for this building is a monumental and historic moment.

“Our donors have been enthusiastic and passionate about the Shari Flaming Center for the Arts,” Koslowsky said, “and know the importance of having a place for the community, for Tabor College and our students. We’ve raised more money here at Tabor than we ever have in the history of the college. We’ve raised over $14 million and that all has been committed to this project.

“We began strong three years ago and we need to end strong as we bring this campaign to completion in 2015,” she added. “The groundbreaking today is a testament to those who have given from their hearts.”

Many people in attendance participated in the actual groundbreaking ceremony. Two ropes were tied to the old plow, and dignitaries took turns sitting on the plow while groups of volunteers pulled the plow. Several furrows were created to signify the start of construction. One of those riding on the plow was Chuck Flaming, a farmer from Nebraska who generously donated the lead gift to name the building after his wife, Shari.

“It’s all about honoring God,” Flaming said. “It’s not about us. It’s about him and the future of the college of young people learning foundations of having a relationship with Jesus Christ. As we see the whole world in turmoil and chaos, if there’s ever a time for Christian leadership it’s now, and hopefully this will be a small part of it. We are just humbled to be a part of it.”

Site preparation for the new facility will begin early this summer. Construction of the building will ensue in fall 2015. The entire project is expected to be completed and dedicated late in 2016. 

The Center for the Arts will include a performance auditorium, a black-box theater, a grand lobby, classrooms, a recording studio, choral rehearsal room and a visual arts education wing.  

For more information regarding the Signature Campaign, visit

Photo provided by Tabor College: President Jules Glanzer was one of several individuals who sat on the antique plow while volunteers pulled on a set of ropes. The plow was made in 1908, the same year Tabor College was founded, said Virgil Litke, who owns the plow.



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