Two lead gifts have generated momentum for Bridgewater College’s multi-million dollar library expansion and renovation. A $4 million commitment from Bonnie and John Rhodes names the facility the John Kenny Forrer Learning Commons, honoring her father. A $2.5 million grant from the Morgridge Family Foundation names the Morgridge Center for Collaborative Learning, which will occupy the main floor of the facility and will integrate career development; assistance in writing, research and information, and media production; information technology help desk and peer tutoring.
Once completed, the project will be the first in the College’s history to be fully funded through charitable donations.
“Through their wonderful generosity, the Rhodes and the Morgridge Family Foundation have brought the College’s vision of a modern library and learning commons closer to reality,” said Bridgewater College President David W. Bushman. “They have ensured that many future generations of Bridgewater students will be able to study and utilize technology collaboratively and in community, preparing them to meet the challenges of our global world.”
While students will certainly continue to access books, this new-generation library will be a flexible environment, complete with a café, indoor and outdoor learning and gathering spaces, group meeting rooms and private study spaces throughout the building. The Forrer Learning Commons will act as a beacon for the College community, encouraging collaborative learning in many forms.
Bonnie and John Rhodes have a longstanding relationship with the College, with Bonnie graduating in 1962. A member of the College’s Board of Trustees since 2015, Bonnie’s parents—John K. Forrer ’30 and Grace Zigler Forrer ’34—attended Bridgewater, where Grace later served as the College’s nurse. John Kenny Forrer, for whom the Learning Commons will be named, was a Deacon in the Mount Vernon Church of the Brethren, President of the Bank of Stuarts Draft, a prominent farmer and community leader.
“My Bridgewater College liberal arts education enriched my life, the lives of my family members and, of course, our greater community,” commented Bonnie. “Naming the Learning Commons for my father is a celebration of the values he and I shared, and I still share with the BC community.”
The Denver-based Morgridge Family Foundation is a private family foundation that invests in transformative gifts in education. John and Carrie Morgridge have partnered with Bridgewater College on many initiatives over the past several years, including sponsoring Share Fair Nation events on the campus to support K-12 teachers and give area youth the opportunity to learn about STEM fields through engaging, interactive events. In addition, the Morgridges established the BC Student Support Foundation, a national youth philanthropy group that teaches students the importance of giving back. The Morgridge Foundation was also instrumental in creating active learning classrooms on the campus.
“It is an honor to support the vision of President Bushman and Bridgewater College,” said Carrie. “We know that these students are the future of our country, and giving them the ideal environment in which to learn, grow and ask questions is the best investment we can make in our future.”
Fundraising for the Forrer Learning Commons will continue, with the intent to break ground in May of 2018 for a formal opening of the building in August of 2019.