Dordt pursues largest capital campaign

Dordt University president Erik Hoekstra and vice president for advancement John Baas presented a $2 million request at the Sioux Center City Council’s meeting Monday afternoon, Sept. 20, that, if given, would be added to the pool of funding for the university’s largest capital campaign.

SIOUX CENTER—Dordt University in Sioux Center is pursuing its largest financial campaign in its history and is asking the city of Sioux Center to consider being a part of it.

Dordt’s president Erik Hoekstra and vice president for advancement John Baas presented a $2 million request at the Sioux Center City Council’s meeting Monday afternoon that, if given, would be added to the pool of funding for the university’s $71 million “Planting for the Future” campaign that’s “seeking to make an unprecedented investment that will impact generations to come,” Hoekstra said.

“We want to train wise Christian disciples ready for service in every corner of God’s kingdom,” Baas said. “Our vision is to be the premier university for anyone who desires an academically challenging and courageously Biblical education.

“To meet the need of the current and future students and to strengthen Dordt’s distinctive mission, we have identified three pillars or buckets for strategic growth, improved infrastructure and enhanced programming in the years ahead.”

One “pillar,” Baas said, is for the university to lead in innovative programs.

As part of this, Dordt has already completed a nursing center and theatre arts expansion projects as well as phase one of the Agriculture Stewardship Center two miles north of Sioux Center. A second phase, included in this campaign, is to raise about $3 million to add a cattle monoslope building adjacent to the stewardship center. Dairy and beef cattle at the facility would be supplied and cared for by a third party. The middle portion of the building would provide classroom-type space and an educational tool for the university’s agriculture and pre-veterinary programs.

Also as part of Dordt’s goal to lead in innovative programs, the university would also like to utilize about $10 million in funding to expand its research institutes and academic centers.

As part of the university’s second “pillar” to enhance living and learning in Christian community, a third part of the campaign projects about $10 million specifically for an expansion and remodel of the B.J. Haan Auditorium. The expansion would add a chapel/recital hall and instrumental practice space on the east side of the existing facility.

Hoekstra noted the remodel of B.J. Haan includes removing the sound booth from the upper level to make way for more seating.

About $1 million of the campaign funding would also help kick off the multiphase renovations to De Witt Gymnasium by adding air conditioning to the facility. Another $3.5 million is estimated to go toward the joint-use American State Bank Indoor Sports Complex and $18.5 million is estimated for building a multilevel dinning common that would connect the existing Student Campus Center to the B.J. Haan Auditorium.

As part of the campaign’s third pillar that aims to increase access to the university, a portion of the fundraising campaign would go toward supporting student scholarships as well as growing its endowment through planned and estate gifts.

“What would Sioux Center look like if Dordt wasn’t part of the community? We believe having a small private university in the community makes a big difference,” Hoekstra said.

One impact Hoekstra highlighted is that Dordt helps draw people to the community in that more than 60 percent of students are from outside of Iowa. Dordt also has 1,120 alumni living in Sioux Center as well as most of its employees.

“Families are moving to Sioux Center to be near their children or grandchildren who study or work at Dordt or settle in Sioux Center after graduating from Dordt,” Hoekstra said.

Hoekstra added that the university provides talent to the community as, for example, there are more than 100 Dordt alumni in Sioux Center schools and more than 50 alumni at Sioux Center Health. Other alumni, too, are starting or owning local companies or being involved in various other businesses such as Interstates, Peoples Bank, Pella Corp., Groschoff, American State Bank and Link Manufacturing.

“We’re also an economic driver with an annual payroll of $17 million and we have 1,400 full-time students being consumers in the local economy,” Hoekstra said. “Dordt sneaks up on you in some ways. It’s been here since 1955. It’s just part of the water in a way.”

The university has added $45 million in new construction in past decade and its capitol expenditures for the next five years is an estimated $48.5 million.

“We’re not pulling out, we’re here to stay,” Hoekstra said. “Though we come to the city with a request, whatever the city is willing to consider for support is appreciated.”

The council indicated the need to mull over an amount and make its decision at its next city council meeting set for noon Monday, Oct. 11.

“This is a project from my standpoint we wholeheartedly want to support,” said council member Dale Vander Berg. “What Dordt brings to our town is very important to the city. What that financial support looks like, we need to mull that over.”

“We all realize that Dordt is a big asset to this community since 1955. … There’s a long history there,” said council member Dale Den Herder. “This is truly part of the heart of Sioux Center so I think we have to support it in some way.”