Benedictine College students, faculty, alumni, and families looked on and cheered as President Stephen Minnis and college donors broke ground on the new library last Saturday.
President Minnis said that the old library, built in 1967, only accommodated about eight percent of Benedictine’s growing student body in 2022. The new library, projected to cost over $38 million, will have three times as much study space, as well as more room for an expanded book collection, a coffee shop, and a replica of the Assembly Room in Philadelphia where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed.
Minnis said that the new library demonstrates Benedictine’s commitment to education and civic duty.
“This new library enhances our mission to educate our students within a community of faith and scholarship,” Minnis said at the ceremony. “It is truly a place of learning fit for one of the great Catholic colleges in America… It will be a symbol of our commitment to academic excellence, and our commitment to the fundamental values of our country.”
Many of the library’s major donors broke ground at the ceremony with Minnis, including Mick and Marlys Haverty—who made the first major donation to the library fund—Mike and Theresa Murphy, and the family of Rebecca and David Moritz, for whom the southern entrance of the library will be named.
The ceremony also included speeches from Dean Kimberly Shankman, Mike Kuckelman, the chairman of the board, and Jeffrey Schremmer, president of the Student Government Association—all of whom emphasized Benedictine’s dedication to the core values of America’s foundation.
“The library we’re breaking ground on today isn’t just the focal point of community and scholarship at Benedictine. It’s a message to current and future Ravens, as well as to the country, that the founding principles of our nation are alive and well in America’s youth,” Schremmer said.
“College students across the country are taught to hate America and its founding principles. They are told that the natural law, the common good and civic virtue are irrelevant in a modern culture which sees radical individualism as the ultimate goal. But there is a growing sense among young people today that we must transform that culture, by embracing the principles of our nation’s founding, and the eternal truths they promote,” he continued.
Tom Hoopes, the vice president of college relations at Benedictine, said that the new library embodies the college’s goal of academic excellence in a very tangible way.
“One thing the college has always tried to do since I’ve been here is build landmarks on campus which show students what our goal is,” Hoopes said. “So we have a beautiful grotto to show our faith, we have the John Paul II Student Center to show our student life goal, and we have beautiful new residence halls. [The library] is really going to show our commitment to scholarship in a major way… I think it’ll really show who we are and what we’re aiming for.”
Minnis said that for him, the ceremony marked an important milestone for the college.
“The groundbreaking is a historic moment in Benedictine College history,” he said. “To be able to build this library which combines community, faith, and scholarship all in one place, it now becomes an opportunity to really take our academic reputation and academic excellence to another level.”