General News News Releases

CONNECT Campaign Launches at $5.5 Million

October 26, 2012 – With the backing of friends and supporters of the Canadian Mennonite Community across Canada and throughout North America, the 13-year-old University in Manitoba is kicking off the public phase of a major $11-million capital campaign to construct a new Library and Learning Commons and  Pedestrian Bridge.

“We are excited to announce campaign progress to date of over $5.5-million in support of this Campaign,” says Campaign Chair Elmer Hildebrand, C.E.O. of Golden West Broadcasting Co. Ltd. “With this level of support in hand, and with commitment anticipated from our extended community, we are confident that we

can be successful in providing CMU with this essential and exciting resource.”

CMU presented project renderings, prepared by Manitoba design firm Friesen Tokar, in June 2012, sharing its vision for the project and opening conversation within the community. By August, CMU announced strong support achieved by the CMU “family” campaign (CONNECT Campaign executive, board and council, faculty, staff, etc.), with over $4-million in lead gifts to get the campaign underway.

“Canadian Mennonite University opened its doors to students in 2000, thanks to the bold collaboration and committed imagination of a great many people,” says CMU President-elect Cheryl Pauls. “Since then, CMU has sustained its vision, graduating women and men who are making a life-giving difference in church and society. The new Library and Learning Commons will help CMU achieve its primary task as a university – that of building understandings that engage both the world and one another.”

“At its core,” says Pauls, “this library project is about a bold spirit and a transformation vision for CMU students, faculty, and the broader community. It draws attention to the vital support of church bodies, businesses, individuals, and government whose partnering and ongoing generosity enable this university to thrive.”

Marlene Janzen, Chair of the CMU Board and Council, notes that the Board is fully committed to backing a project that significantly enhances the learning experience at CMU. “This project will create wonderful spaces for students, faculty, and the community to connect,” says Janzen.

Supporting the campaign’s fundraising efforts are a dedicated group of CONNECT Campaign volunteers, including Campaign Chair Elmer Hildebrand and Campaign Executive Members Art DeFehr, Philipp R. Ens, Bill Fast, Janice Filmon, Bert Friesen, Charles Loewen, Jake Rempel, and Tamara Roehr, supported by the University’s Development team.

Library Director Vic Froese is keen to offer the benefits of the new library to students and to the community. “The Library will be more than a building,” says Froese. “It will be a place for people to study, collaborate, and research together. It will be a gathering place for meaningful conversation and learning. Well-designed surroundings make a real difference to the quality of learning and research.”

The Library will act as a learning commons at the heart and centre of CMU’s Shaftesbury campus, offering high quality services, important resources, and spacious new study areas. The facility will include mezzanine study rooms and a commons meeting area and will house the University’s substantial library collections, services, and technology. In addition, the new building will host a bookstore and resource centre and a vibrant café, providing the broader community with access to a fine array of resource materials and a forum for engaging dialogue.

One highly visible part of the project is construction of a Pedestrian Bridge to span Grant Avenue, connecting the two sides of CMU’s Shaftesbury campus and providing safe passage across the busy thoroughfare. The bridge will signal the presence of CMU as an institution that connects people to one another. 

News of the new capital project is generating excitement among students on campus.

“The Library will provide a wonderful learning space for residence and commuter students alike,” says Jenna Dyck, 4th-year Psychology student from Ottawa, Ontario.

“It’s an important investment in our future,” comments David Epp, History student from Rosthern, Saskatchewan.

Danielle Bailey, 3rd-year Theology and Social Sciences student from Winnipeg, sees the Library not only as a place for research and study but also as an important space to connect with others. “It will strengthen the CMU community,” says Bailey.

For Campaign Chair Elmer Hildebrand, the motivating factor behind his commitment to the Campaign is clear. “This project will impact the future of our church by equipping young people to live out their faith and make a difference in a challenging world,” says Hildebrand. “Support from volunteers and donors matters!”

A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, Canadian Mennonite University, offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as two graduate degree programs. CMU has over 1,600 students at its Shaftesbury Campus, at Menno Simons College in downtown Winnipeg, and enrolled through its Outtatown discipleship program. CMU is a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.

For Campaign information, contact: CMU Director of Development Abe Bergen |



The Library and Learning Commons will greatly enhance the CMU learning environment for students, faculty, and the general public.

  • Students will be better able to focus on their studies in a quiet and attractive setting furnished with study carrels, worktables, and lounge seating.
  • Small group rooms will invite students to work together in teams at important questions and issues.
  • New computer, wireless, and peripheral technologies will support study, research, and collaboration.
  • A seminar room will enable small classes to meet in proximity to necessary library resources.
  • Significantly increased space with natural light and controlled temperature and humidity will allow future expansion and growth of the collection.

The Library and Learning Commons will include a prominent and welcoming entrance and gathering area (Library Centre), inviting students and the general public to make use of its resources.

  • It will feature a Bookstore and Resource Centre with the most extensive selection of theological resources anywhere in the province.
  • An inviting Café will welcome students, faculty, staff, and members of the community to gather and discuss the issues of the day.

An attractive Pedestrian Bridge will link the two sides of CMU’s campus, currently partitioned by a busy thoroughfare, providing a safe, accessible route across Grant Avenue. It will also signal the presence of CMU in the community, serving as a symbol for an institution that connects people with ideas and each other over issues that matter.