LAMONI, IA — Graceland University will rename its gymnasium after long-time supporters and alumni Louise ’43 and Paul ’36 Morden. The Morden family donated a lead gift to renovate the building, currently named the Eugene E. and Julia Travis Closson Physical Education Center. To acknowledge the Mordens’ long history of service and generosity to Graceland’s mission, the university’s board of trustees approved renaming the iconic athletic center the Morden Center as the renovation begins in spring of 2020, pending remaining funding.
Louise Morden said of her gift, “Graceland has been an important fixture in my life and in that of my late husband, Paul. To honor him, I am excited for the opportunity to share our love for Graceland with generations of students to come.”
Early in 2019, Graceland engaged architecture firm Shive Hattery for the renovation of the gymnasium. The iconic structure, reminiscent of a covered wagon, celebrated 50 years of service to the university this year and is the most heavily used building on Graceland’s Lamoni campus.
The project will be conducted in two phases. Phase one will replace the roof and update everything attached to it (lighting, sound system, scoreboard, etc.), and will include an HVAC overhaul that will add air conditioning and a needed fire sprinkler system. Phase two will address the rest of the space (basketball court, track, volleyball and intramural spaces, bleachers, etc.). This exciting project will honor the uniqueness of the building while modernizing it to help secure Graceland’s future success.
“This is such an exciting and necessary project for the Graceland community,” said Patricia H. Draves, Graceland University President. “The generosity of Louise and Paul Morden has been an important part of our success, and we are so glad the board of trustees is acknowledging their contributions by naming our gymnasium the Morden Center.”
The university plans to kick off the renovation on the heels of the completion of Newcom Student Union, which began construction following the Spring 2019 commencement ceremonies.
Graceland’s board of trustees chair, Harry J. Ashenhurst, PhD, said, “The Mordens are pillars of generosity and are representative of the dedicated alumni base that continues to exhibit the Power of Together at Graceland. The board of trustees is proud to recognize their contributions to the university.”