Major gift advances Cottey College campaign for new student center

The new student center's west terrace, as seen in this artist's rendering, will offer a multilevel patio with seating for up to 150 people and a ramp for accessibility. Courtesy | Cottey College

NEVADA, Mo. — A lead gift of $500,000 from a longtime Cottey College advocate and donor has pushed the college to about one-third of its goal for a new student center on campus.

The center, once constructed, also will be named the Susan Bulkeley Butler Center for Campus Life in honor of the donation, Cottey's president, Jann Weitzel, recently announced.

"Cottey College is extremely fortunate to have friends like Susan Bulkeley Butler who believe in supporting and mentoring women to encourage them to become their very best selves," Weitzel said in a statement. "She is a great benefactor to the college and is also a tremendous role model for our students."

The $3.2 million campaign, called "Connect," seeks to build a new student center in the lower level of the Cottey chapel, located in the heart of campus. The 5,000-square-foot center will house the bookstore and spirit shop, the Chellie Club snack bar, lockers for commuter students and meeting space for students and visitors.

The student center will be designed by the GastingerWalker& architectural firm, which also was involved in the college's Judy and Glenn Rogers Fine Arts Building and the PEO Hall parlor projects. Construction will begin once the campaign goal has been reached, said Sherri Taylor, vice president for institutional advancement.

"We are very much in the early stages of this," she said in an interview with the Globe. "We would love to start the project during the summer of 2020. Cottey is a student-centered campus; we just don't have a place where everyone can come together."

Butler, the lead donor, retired in 2002 from Accenture, a consulting firm, and is the author of two books focused on empowering women and girls. She was a speaker at Cottey's 2007 Convention of International Chapter of the PEO Sisterhood, a leader in residence at the college in 2008, a member of the advisory council for Cottey's "Defining Moments" campaign and 2015's commencement speaker.

"I am all about helping women be more successful, and this is an opportunity for me to help other women," she said of her gift.

Emily Younker is the managing editor at the Joplin Globe. Contact: eyounker AT joplinglobe DOT com.