A Brave new vision is in sight.

Ottawa University’s new Gangwish Library and Gibson Student Center has the green light for construction following $10 million in donations, pledges and a $750,000 grant from the Mabee Foundation, university officials announced this week.

The project is the largest piece of the university’s $24.3 million “Advancing the Vision Capital Campaign.” Funds raised during the campaign are slated to enhance facilities and strengthen academic programming, scholarships, the endowment, athletics and a number of other areas of the university, OU officials said.

“As we close in on Ottawa University’s 150th anniversary [in 2015], this signature facility demonstrates in a special way our commitment to providing a first-class education for our students,” Kevin Eichner, OU president, said.

The new library and student center represent the largest single building project ever undertaken by the university, Eichner said. A public groundbreaking ceremony has been scheduled for 11 a.m. May 10 in front of the Mowbray Union on the OU campus, 1001 S. Cedar St., Ottawa.

“Not only will this multi-functional facility serve the institution’s purposes, but also those of the larger Ottawa community as we continue to meld learning and culture, social activities and service,” Eichner said. “We invite everyone to join us on May 10 for this exciting event.”

The library/student center project is to be built in two phases, OU officials said.

Construction of the Gibson Student Center, being built south of Mowbray Union in the center of the campus, is slated for completion in summer 2014, Paula Paine, OU’s manager of public relations and publications, said.   

Once the Gibson Student Center is finished, Paine said, dining facilities will transfer from Mowbray Union to the new student center and demolition of Mowbray would begin, Paine said.

“We wanted to prevent any disruption in student services,” Paine said as to why the student center was being built first.

The Gangwish Library is to be built on the site of the existing union and is scheduled for completion in summer 2015, Paine said.

Once constructed, the 43,000-square-foot library and attached student center will serve the university community with “state-of-the-art technology, student services, dining and conference amenities,” the school said in a release.

Notable features of the new facility will be Hetrick Hall, the dining hall and industrial kitchen; the Schendel multi-purpose and conference area that seats up to 500 people on the second floor; the Blackboard Center for Academic Innovation and Technology; the Scherich Atrium in the Grand Hall entry area; Myers circulation desk; Mabee second floor reception area; Hasty and Zook technology-enabled conference rooms; multiple classrooms; the Pelton Grill; a rear-access concession area and an expanded bookstore, the university said in a news release.

Outdoor elements will “showcase an expansive dining area, including the Mowbray Plaza/Patio, and a distinctive fire and water fountain feature designed to honor OU’s connection with the Ottawa tribe,” the release said.

“Our alumni and friends demonstrated a resounding affirmation of this project by committing the required $10 million several months ahead of the Mabee Challenge Grant deadline [in July],” Paul Bean, OU’s vice president for advancement, said in a news release.

The J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation awarded OU a $750,000 challenge grant in July 2012 to support the university’s campaign to build the Gangwish Library and Gibson Student Center. The grant offer, however, would have expired in July if OU had been unable to match the gift in pledges or donations during that one-year period, OU officials said. The Delaware-based, nonprofit foundation aids Christian and charity organizations, universities, colleges and hospitals.

Marguerite Gibson and the Carl and Carrie Gangwish family each donated $1 million toward the project, and the two buildings will carry their names. Other major donors included Blackboard Inc., the Sherman Family Foundation, Sunderland Foundation, Sodexo Inc. and Affiliates, UMB Bank, NA and numerous others, according to the OU release. Nearly $2 million has been contributed from Ottawa University’s trustees, the release said.

To make room for the new student center, the university is removing a fire pit and a gazebo and tearing down a small building, which housed boilers and pumps no longer in use, Paine said. That demolition work already is under way.

OU officials have yet to determine how they plan to use the old library building once the Gangwish Library is built, Paine said.

“That has not been determined, but the plan is not to tear down the building, at least not initially,” Paine said.

Ottawa-based Loyd Builders is the construction project’s contractor. Consultants include Devore & Associates Architects, Ottawa; SFS Architecture, Kansas City, Mo.; Bartlett and West Professional Engineering Consultants, Topeka; Latimer Sommers & Associates, Topeka, and GLMV Architecture, Kansas City, Mo., the release said.

As part of the building project, alumni and friends of the university can purchase commemorative bricks that will comprise the exterior walkway surrounding the buildings, the OU release said. For more information on this and other giving/naming opportunities, go to www.ottawa.edu/advancingthevision

“We are so grateful to the members of the Mabee Foundation and our loyal donors who have made this incredible project possible,” vice president Bean said.