“We are honoured to open this spectacular space to the university community and the communities surrounding CMU,” says CMU President Cheryl Pauls. “Marpeck Commons will be the hub of the campus and of a vibrant learning community. It’s a great place for formal and informal gathering, and we’re excited about the quality of conversation and study that will happen there.”
Pauls adds that the bridge offers coherence to the CMU campus by providing students, staff, and guests a safe and accessible way across Grant Ave.
Central to Marpeck Commons is the library. The library is vital to CMU’s effectiveness in connecting students with one another and with the expertise and mentoring of faculty, librarians, and staff.
Marpeck Commons also houses CommonWord, a book and resource centre created in partnership with Mennonite Church Canada that will allow users to buy, borrow, and download a wide range of resources, as well as a coffee and snack bar called Folio Café.
‘With honour and joy, we say thanks,” says President Cheryl Pauls
Speeches, songs, prayer, conversation, laughter, and excitement marked the opening of Marpeck Commons, Canadian Mennonite University’s new library, learning commons, and bridge.
More than 300 faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends filled the building for its Grand Opening and Dedication ceremony, held this past Saturday, November 29.
“Today, we celebrate the possibilities for the university and far beyond,” said Vice President External Terry Schellenberg.
Plans for a new library, with a bridge that would connect the north and south sides of CMU’s campus, began to take shape more than 15 years ago. Construction began in July 2013.
President Cheryl Pauls reflected that a common question she faced during the building process was: Do universities still need libraries?
If they are merely places to store books, the answer is no. If they are spaces that draw students into conversations, then the answer is yes.
“The greater the stores of knowledge available at the push of a thumb, the greater the yearning for experientially-based connections amongst people enabling sound research, shared understanding, deep friendship, and trustworthy community,” Pauls said.
President Emeritus Gerald Gerbrandt, who led CMU from its inception in 2000 until 2012, recalled the meeting in 1998 where the idea of a new library and bridge first took shape.
“(The bridge) represents a larger vision, symbolizing CMU’s commitment to building bridges that overcome all kinds of divisions—not only between the two founding denominations (Mennonite Brethren and Mennonite Church), but among us, as well as between us and others,” Gerbrandt said.
Jerald Peters, Principal Architect at ft3, said that designing Marpeck Commons presented a challenge that he and his colleagues were eager to take on.
“It’s a challenge to design a building that has so many opportunities,” Peters said, adding that those opportunities included unifying a divided campus and welcoming friends and neighbours to CMU, all while being sustainable and creating a building that is “transparent and yet (has) a presence.”
More than 700 donors contributed to the CONNECT fundraising campaign, which was established to make the new building a reality. Under the guidance of Campaign Chair Elmer Hildebrand, CEO of Golden West Broadcasting, the campaign has raised more than $13 million toward its $14.4 million goal.
Hildebrand said it has been a pleasure to work with a dedicated fundraising cabinet, and that the team is committed to working together until the campaign reaches its goal.
“We value the support from such a diverse community,” Hildebrand said. “Each gift is important and speaks to the past, present, and hope of the future.”
He added that the building is named after Pilgram Marpeck, a civil magistrate from the early 1500s whose Anabaptist convictions guided his life and work.
“In the turmoil of 16th century, he called for love and tolerance, and perhaps he has something to say to us today,” Hildebrand said.
Speaking on behalf of the student body, CMU Student Council President Josh Hollins noted that CMU has had an enormous impact on the way he interacts with people, thinks about the world, and sees himself as a Christian.
“What takes classroom learning to a whole new level is the conversations that I have with my peers, staff, and faculty over a cup of coffee, and the sharing of personal experiences,” Hollins said, adding that Marpeck Commons creates potential for more of such interactions.
“More broadly, I believe that it will help to foster the enriching community that we experience through coming to such a unique post-secondary institution here in Winnipeg,” Hollins said.
Marpeck Commons also houses CommonWord, a book and resource centre created in partnership with Mennonite Church Canada that will allow students and the public to buy, borrow, and download a wide range of resources, as well as a coffee and snack bar called Folio Café.
The Commons will be fully functioning by January 6, the first day of CMU’s winter term.
The Marpeck Commons grounds include 100 new trees, a naturalized pond, a low fence and gentle pathways that will welcome community members in.
Pauls invited the community to engage in programs, get to know students and faculty, come for coffee and gelato, come to events, draw on resources, and spend time in Marpeck Commons.
“I invite people… to continue to pray and invest, and cherish the stories told through a university rooted in the Anabaptist faith tradition, moved and transformed by the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, ever inspiring and equipping women and men for lives of reconciliation and service in church and society,” Pauls said.
“With honour and joy, we say thanks.”
About CMU A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences and social sciences, and graduate degrees in Theology and Ministry. CMU has over 1,600 students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury Campus and in its Menno Simons College and Outtatown programs.
June 15, 2012 – Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) President Gerald Gerbrandt today announced plans for a major new university capital project that will significantly enhance CMU’s infrastructure for delivering quality post-secondary education. This important new campus asset will also serve as a valuable resource to the broader Manitoba community.
“In 12 short years since CMU purchased its buildings and land from the Province and merged the assets of existing Mennonite colleges, CMU has established itself as a dynamic university with growing credibility,” says Gerbrandt. “Its Christian and Anabaptist commitments provide the foundation for a truly unique Canadian university serving church and community. Now, CMU is building on its momentum, putting in place the building blocks for increased future impact.”
Bringing congratulations to CMU around this capital project were Premier Greg Selinger and Acting Deputy Mayor and Charleswood Tuxedo Councillor Paula Havixbeck, along with a number of other guests and supporters of the project. Two years ago, the University celebrated completion of another capital project that saw construction of a new CMU Science Laboratory on the University’s Shaftesbury campus. In fall 2011, CMU announced donor funding of $6.5-to $7.5-million to establish its CMU Redekop School of Business.
“Building the new CMU Library and Learning Commons, along with a pedestrian bridgelinking both sides of CMU’s Shaftesbury campus, are key next steps in building a CMU for the future,” says Elmer Hildebrand, fundraising campaign chair for the capital project and CEO of Golden West Radio.
“CMU is grateful for the dedicated and effective fundraising leadership of the Campaign Executive of CONNECT: The Campaign for CMU,” says Gerbrandt. “We’re looking forward to our public campaign in the coming months and sharing further announcements from our Campaign team.”
Chair Elmer Hildebrand is joined in his efforts by the CONNECT Campaign Executive Members Art DeFehr, Philipp R. Ens, Bill Fast, Janice Filmon, Bert Friesen, Charles Loewen, Jake Rempel, and Tamara Roehr.
“Today, as we announce our plans to construct this library and learning commons along with the pedestrian bridge, we are pleased to name those who are helping us with this project,” says Gerbrandt. “The architects for the project are ft3. They have done much work designing both a functional and a simple and exciting design. We have selected Concord Projects as the contractor; they have been working closely with us and the architects in readiness to proceed with this project.”
Features of the New Library and Learning Commons
The Library and Learning Commons will greatly enhance the CMU learning environment for students, faculty, and the general public.
Study carrels, worktables, and lounge seating in attractive setting will stimulate students to connect with ideas and thinkers from around the world.
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.
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 attractivePedestrian Bridgewill 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.
The Campaign Executive has been actively fundraising in support of the project and expects to publicly launch the CONNECT campaign within the year. CMU anticipates beginning construction on the new facility and bridge in 2013.
Photo indenty: Canadian Mennonite University on June 15, 2012 announced an $11-million capital project – a new Library and Learning Commons, and Pedestrian Bridge. Joining in the announcement were: (front row, l. to r.) CMU President-Elect Cheryl Pauls, CMU President Gerald Gerbrandt, Premier of Manitoba Greg Selinger, CONNECT Campaign Chair Elmer Hildebrand, Acting Deputy Mayor Paula Havixbeck, Councillor for Charleswood Tuxedo; (back row, l to r), CMU Vice President External Terry Schellenberg, and Campaign Executive Members Tamara Roehr, Bill Fast, Jake Rempel, Bert Friesen, Charles Loewen, and Janice Filmon. (Missing from photograph: Campaign Executive Members Art DeFehr and Philipp R. Ens)