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CMU Celebrates the Grand Opening of Marpeck Commons

‘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.

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CMU’s Terry Schellenberg, Vice President External, welcomes over 300 people to the grand open ceremony for the university’s new library and learning commons

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.”

Ribbon-cutting at Marpeck Commons with (l-r) Elton DeSilva, MB Church Manitoba Executive Director;  Marlene Janzen, Marlene Janzen CMU Board of Governors Chair; Jerold Peters, ft3 Principle Architect; Josh Hollins, CMU Student Council President; Elmer Hildebrand, CMU Capital Campaign Chair; Cheryl Pauls, CMU President; Ted Paetkau Concord Projects CEO, Willard Metzger, MC Canada Executive Director
Ribbon-cutting at Marpeck Commons with (l-r) Elton DeSilva, MB Church Manitoba Executive Director; Marlene Janzen, Marlene Janzen CMU Board of Governors Chair; Jerold Peters, ft3 Principle Architect; Josh Hollins, CMU Student Council President; Elmer Hildebrand, CMU Capital Campaign Chair; Cheryl Pauls, CMU President; Ted Paetkau Concord Projects CEO, Willard Metzger, MC Canada Executive Director

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.

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Marpeck Commons—CMU’s new library, learning commons, and bridge—glows in the winter night.

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.”

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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.

For information about CMU, visit: www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:

Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

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CMU invites community to celebrate the grand opening of Marpeck Commons

We are honoured to open this spectacular space,’ says university president

Canadian Mennonite University will celebrate the grand opening of Marpeck Commons, CMU’s new library, learning commons, and bridge, on Saturday, November 29.

The public is invited to join CMU staff, faculty, and students at 2299 Grant Ave. for the grand opening celebration from 1:30 PM to 2:15 PM. An open house is scheduled for 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

MCbanner“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.

“CMU’s capacity to connect students with one another and with faculty, librarians, staff, and surrounding communities enables the university to live out its mission of inspiring and equipping women and men for lives of service, leadership, and reconciliation in church and society,” Pauls says.

Vic Froese, Library Director, is excited to see the library open. “It will invite students and others to come to a place where we have a fine collection of good resources and resourcing expertise,” Froese says.

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.

Marpeck Commons is named after Pilgram Marpeck, a 16th century Anabaptist leader and civil engineer whose writings emphasize Christian love, the pursuit of peace, and active pursuit of justice before God and among all people.

Designed by ft3 and constructed under the direction of Concord Projects, Marpeck Commons includes a range of environmentally conscious and energy-saving initiatives that have been integrated into both the interior and exterior construction.

See the construction of Marpeck Commons from beginning to end (photo album)
See the construction of Marpeck Commons from beginning to end (photo album)

The Commons lies on a designated Manitoba Heritage site, between two Winnipeg treasures: Assiniboine Park and a large urban forest. The site design of the CMU campus complements these green city spaces.

Construction on the project began in July 2013, funded by the CONNECT fundraising campaign under the leadership of Campaign Chair Elmer Hildebrand, CEO of Golden West Broadcasting. To date, $13-million has been committed toward the campaign’s $14.4-million goal.

Immediately following the grand opening program on November 29, the public is invited to Christmas at CMU at 2:30 PM and 7:00 PM. Create your own concert with family, friends, and neighbours while enjoying music, festive décor, cookies, and hot apple cider. Admission is free.

In addition to the grand opening, media are invited to an open house on Friday, November 28 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Members of the media will have the opportunity to tour Marpeck Commons with Pauls and other CMU personnel on hand to answer questions.

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.

For information about CMU, visit: www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:

Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2