Mount Mercy University CRST International Graduate Center announced

Mount Mercy University announced plans for a new graduate center during a ceremonial groundbreaking on Friday, November 2. The Mount Mercy University CRST International Graduate Center will undergo renovations immediately for a grand opening planned for the fall of 2013.

The center was made possible thanks to a grant through the U.S. Department of Education and a $2.1 million dollar gift given to the university by Dyan and John Smith on behalf of CRST. The Smiths’ generous gift marks the largest single outright gift in Mount Mercy’s 85-year history.

“My husband and I believe that further education and training are one of the most important ingredients necessary for the future of our community,” Dyan Smith said. “We choose to support the graduate programs at Mount Mercy University to further not only the individuals, but the community as a whole. Our hope is that others will choose to support Mount Mercy University in this way.”

Features of the renovated 34,494 square foot building will include a 3,324 square foot auditorium that will seat up to 200 people, a marriage and family therapy clinic, computer lab, coffee shop, lobby, common area and faculty conference room. The building will house 14 classrooms, 17 faculty offices, 10 therapy rooms and two observation rooms. Naming opportunities within the Mount Mercy University CRST International Graduate Center remain available.

“We are tremendously thankful to Dyan and John Smith for their generosity as well as to CRST for this new partnership,” said Mount Mercy President Christopher Blake. “Today Mount Mercy University celebrates another milestone in its commitment to lifelong learning and opportunities available at the graduate level to our students and our community for professional leadership.”

The university took possession of the former U.S. Army Reserve Center located at 1599 Wenig Road NE on the corner of Matterhorn Drive in Cedar Rapids, less than two miles away from the main campus, on October 25. The efforts to acquire the second campus span a period of several years of work by many university employees and community partners.

The property, with more than six acres of land, previously served as an army and naval reserve training center and was vacated upon the opening of the Cedar Rapids Armed Forces Reserve Center last fall. In 2006, Mount Mercy started the application process with the Department of Education and applied for 100 percent grant funding for the building to house its four graduate programs.

“We are excited for the opportunities the new graduate center will allow for our graduate programs,” said Mount Mercy Provost Melody Graham. “Additional space allows us the ability to grow each of our programs and better serve the needs of our graduate students.”

Mount Mercy currently offers four degrees at the graduate level, which include Master of Arts in Education, Master of Business Administration, Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy and Master of Science in Nursing. Mount Mercy’s graduate programs have a combined enrollment of nearly 300 students and 20 employees. Graduate programs are designed for working adults balancing busy schedules with classes held nights and weekends.

Click here for photos from the ceremony --->

View video highlights from Friday's groundbreaking ceremony --->

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