Rolling Out The Welcome Mat
Date: June 5, 2008
“This is the day.” The day Andrews University officially rolled out the welcome mat and invited the community to step in, said Andrews University President Niels-Erik Andreasen. The grand opening of the new entrance to campus marked nearly 30 years of planning and culminated with faculty, staff, students, community friends and local officials taking part in the celebration on Monday, June 2.
Up until the early morning hours of June 2, crews were busy with the finishing touches on the new J.N. Andrews Boulevard and its gateway off of M-139 in Berrien Springs. Draped in blue and gold ribbon, the new entrance stood ready and waiting to be officially opened as a crowd of more than 700 gathered to witness the momentous occasion.
Dr. Andreasen began the ceremony by sharing a personal reflection. “This new entrance represents the fulfillment of a personal dream for me. Ever since I first arrived here, I cringed at the cumbersome, unattractive, unsafe way this university welcomed its faculty, staff, students and guests through the back door, or the kitchen door as it were. But no more. We have a proper front door and you are invited to come in.”
Thanking the donors who made the dream of a new entrance become a reality, David Faehner, vice president of University Advancement, took a moment to focus on three families in a special way. Dr. David Cromwell, an alumnus of the class of ’63, and two families who aren’t Andrews alumni, yet strong believers of Seventh-day Adventist education: John and Dede Howard, and the late William Colson and his wife, Bonnie, who provided the lead gift for the new entrance. Faehner shared the series of events leading to the Colson family making the largest personal gift in school history, ending by quoting William Colson, “‘God has given me so much. How can I refuse any worthy project?’”
Richard Scott, director of facilities management, thanked the many individuals who were involved over the past 30 years in the planning, design and construction of the new entrance. A special thank you was given to Wightman Associates Inc. of Benton Harbor, the lead contractor and project manager of the project, for bringing together the vast array of contractor resources in southwest Michigan to make the new entrance what it is today.
Berrien Springs Village President Bill Dustin said he was glad to have Andrews University in his community and offered congratulations on the new entrance. “For your donor, who gave to this project, you have done him right.”
Al Pscholka, district representative for Congressman Fred Upton, said the new entrance is a great front door. “Twenty years ago, when I came out here, I drove right past this place. I didn’t know all the great stuff that was happening right here.”
Ernest Hildebrand, supervisor of Oronoko Charter Township, said, “I can remember many years ago [getting updates on the project.] I kept thinking, ‘I hope it happens in my lifetime yet.’” He added, “It certainly adds a lot of beauty to your campus.”
Heather Knight, provost for Andrews University, shared why the new boulevard was named in honor of J.N. Andrews, for whom Andrews University is named. A noted scholar and early church leader, J.N. Andrews also has the distinction of being the first missionary to go overseas on behalf of the Seventh-day Adventist church in 1874, the same year Andrews University (then Battle Creek College) was born.
Knight also pointed out the new globe photo opportunity feature complete with adequate parking, a much-needed asset to a university with a global mission and vision. “This is the place to take pictures to say, ‘I was at Andrews. I have arrived.’”
A prayer of blessing was offered by Gerry Karst, chair of the Andrews University Board of Trustees and vice president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, followed by James North, professor of pastoral care and chaplaincy, leading the crowd in singing the school song, “Our Dear A.U.”
Following the ribbon-cutting, the crowd spilled out onto J.N. Andrews Boulevard and began putting the new globe photo-op to use. The Andrews University bus, carrying university administration and local officials, was the first vehicle to drive on the newly open boulevard. A historical parade of classic cars, including a horse and wagon, circled the boulevard representing the vast timeline of Andrews University.