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 The “Topping Off Ceremony” included raising the tallest beam, complete with flags and a tree, on the Lee and Jim Vann Library and a speech by Jim Vann (right).
The “Topping Off Ceremony” included raising the tallest beam, complete with flags and a tree, on the Lee and Jim Vann Library and a speech by Jim Vann (right).
The University of St. Francis is located on the western edge of Fort Wayne, Indiana. This beautiful 72-acre campus has rolling lawns and tree-shaded coves surrounded by the scenic Mirror Lake.

As students began their first day of classes, August 29, 2005, they discovered some major changes.

The big news on campus is the progression of the Pope John Paul II Center.

Construction began when classes ended in May. Now, nearly six months later, the $14 million project is well under way. The 90,000 square foot complex is the largest single construction project in the university’s history.

According to the university’s school newspaper, The Paw Print, an article written by Cassandra Cripps titled, A New Era for the University of Saint Francis, described the construction.

“The completed building will house eight classrooms, faculty offices for the School of Professional Studies, the Keith Busse School of Business, the School of Liberal Arts, an Education Technology Center (ETC); 2 eateries, an expanded library, 2 technology training rooms, a cyber café/internet lounge, several group study rooms, a lounge boasting at least two large screen, high definition televisions, and its own generator system. The entire building will have wireless capabilities, with wireless ready laptops for students to check out from within the new library. Over 1,200 computer jacks hidden beneath the floors for future use ensure that this will be the most technologically advanced building on campus.”

On August 31, 2005, The University of St. Francis announced the naming of its new 26,000 square foot library.

Featuring integrated technology and oriented to support student success in every way, the “Lee and Jim Vann Library” will open in August 2006.

“We are honored to name our library for the Vann family,” said President of USF-Sister Elise Kriss.

Jim Vann is Chairman of the Executive Committee of Rea Magnet Wire, headquartered in Fort Wayne. A trustee of the university since 1997, Jim Vann is the former CEO of Rea Magnet Wire Company. He has served as board member and past chairman of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, advisory board member of the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center, and board member of the Allen County Public Library Foundation. Jim and his wife Lee have supported the Vann Family Foundation with major contributions to the Interfaith Hospitality Network, Visiting Nurse Service and Hospice Inc., and the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne.

The Lee and Jim Vann Library will include both current libraries (the main library and Health Sciences Library) and Bonaventure’s Computer Library.

According to Dr. Barry Belknap, Associate Vice President for Academic Services, “this center of higher education—the Vann Library—will contain a lot of comfy, cozy study areas, along with a cyber café, complete with Starbucks and café style tables for internet use.

In addition to the new Pope John Paul II Center, “The university has experienced strong enrollment growth for a number of consecutive years, but this year enrollment broke through a significant benchmark when it exceeded 2,000 students,” noted President Sister M. Elise Kriss. “We offer an impressive package of quality academic programs, a beautiful campus, and outstanding opportunities for personal growth and community service.”

Enrollment is up in many of the university’s academic programs including nursing, biology, art, and business, among others.

Grounded in the Franciscan Values, the University of Saint Francis was established in 1890 by the Sisters of Saint Francis of Perpetual Adoration. It is a Catholic, coeducational institution of higher education in the liberal arts tradition, offering undergraduate and graduate programs.

The Waynedale News Staff
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