Lamoni, Iowa — Graceland University announced the generous contribution of philanthropist and alumnus Richard J. Resch ‘58 to the Morden Center project, wrapping up the first phase of fundraising and ensuring that the university will break ground on the project in spring of 2020. Resch’s contribution will name center court the Richard J. Resch Court, acknowledging a lifetime of service to the Graceland community.
Resch reflected on his experience in Lamoni, “As a young man, Graceland had a profound impact on me, shaping my learning interests and setting me on a course for professional success. It’s with great pride and respect for the university that I make this gift.”
This donation marks the halfway point in fundraising for this project. “We are so grateful for Richard’s contribution to the Morden Center project,” said Graceland President Patricia H. Draves. “Graceland’s alumni and friends are unlike any other, and Richard is a perfect example of the generosity that I encounter when I meet with alumni everywhere.”
The Spring 2020 groundbreaking will begin phase one of the project, which includes the renovation of the iconic roof and everything attached to it, not the least of which is the addition of a new HVAC system. Adding air conditioning to the building will provide necessary climate control during hot Iowa summers, especially during Spectacular, a late-summer high school youth camp hosted at Graceland by the university’s sponsoring church, Community of Christ.
“What we’re about is creating community. That doesn’t happen without the Graceland community first, who welcomes us and is entrenched in our experience. We love the relationship we have with Graceland and are so excited about this project,” said Jamie Varvaro ’81, Spectacular co-director.
New lighting, a new scoreboard, and updated sound and technology are all important aspects of the first phase as well. The momentum of this development launches the project into the second phase, which will renovate many of the more tangible building functions like restrooms, court and track surfaces, and an updated atrium dedicated to Eugene ’26 and Julia Travis ’26 Closson, who the building has been named after for the past 50 years. All renovations in the second phase will be subject to available funding.
Graceland Athletic Director Brady McKillip ’00 emphasized the significance of Resch’s gift to the project, saying, “We at Graceland count ourselves very fortunate to have unique and functional facilities that can house practices, intramurals and community events. The generosity of Mr. Resch is a perfect example of the way the Graceland community comes together to support us, and we are so grateful for the gift.”
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