How much of your summer wages were needed to pay for your tuition? That question is being asked to alumni as part of the fall “Grebel Fund” appeal. Farhan Saeed, a coop student working in communications this term, did some research to create this graph that illustrates how times have changed for students over the span of 60 years.
Students at Grebel who are attending the University of Waterloo or Wilfrid Laurier University and have volunteered with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) are now provided the opportunity to earn a substantial scholarship toward one term’s tuition.
A new capital campaign was announced at the 60th Anniversary Gala on October 11. This followed several ‘announcements’ from students, given in the lively spirit of Community Supper announcements. These included invitations to keep dorm room doors wide open during heat waves and a word of thanks to a clean up brigade who mopped up after a ‘waterfall’ down the stairs caused by a plumbing blockage.
Vocal music students at Grebel and UWaterloo are now supported by a new scholarship open to students enrolled in Music Studio in voice and in Music Department choirs. The “Lichti Voice Studies Scholarship Award” was graciously established by Daniel Lichti, an Associate Professor Emeritus of the Faculty of Music at Wilfrid Laurier University (1998-2017).
In April 2022, the Grebel Board of Governors approved the new “Strategic Plan 2022-2025 | Renewing an Inspired Community.” Since this adoption, the College has shifted some of its resources to the four areas of focus which centre attention on these core strategic areas: the student experience; relationships with key partners in the university, church, and wider community; excellence in learning; and resilience for the future. The chart below details some of the progress made in 2022-2023.
Grebel will be creating a pollinator garden in the spring term! This garden will consist of a variety of native, pollinator-friendly perennials and shrubs, along with a picnic table, educational signs, and paths. We hope that it will be an eye-catching and inviting spot for Grebel students and anyone passing by.
Earlier in the year, Grebel students were really behind the 8-ball when their pool table broke right in half! After a request for help in the College e-newsletter, the Thomas family—Phil and Marg (parents of Grebel alumni Neil and Graham)—stepped in and generously donated their table. The Thomas family shared that many Grebel friends had played KERP on this table in its previous life.
Supporting Grebel programs and capital campaigns has always been a priority for Grebel alumna Anita (Lehn) Tiessen (BA 1981) (second from right in photo) and her late husband Bob Tiessen (BMath 1974). While Bob was an actuary and loved numbers and spreadsheets, one of his favourite hobbies was history. He loved to expand his knowledge of world events and had an interest and respect for Mennonite history, particularly his own family’s history. One of Bob’s retirement projects was to sort through all the photos and documents left to him when his parents passed away. Some of these artifacts were donated to the Archives housed at Grebel, and have resulted in the Franz and Anna Tiessen fonds.
Sara Froese Berg (1893-1979) had an unfulfilled dream to receive an education. This dream was fulfilled as granddaughter Geraldine Balzer and great-granddaughters Kerstin and Alina graduated from the University of Waterloo and attended Grebel.
For two high school students who connect to House of Friendship programs in Waterloo Region, a substantial grant from the Lyle S Hallman Foundation will make the dream of a Grebel residence experience and a University of Waterloo degree a reality. Youth from community centres and family resource programs run by House of Friendship might not consider applying to UWaterloo if they can’t afford it. Even if they are able to cover tuition, living in residence is often out of the question.
An Open House on Saturday, March 26 signified the end of the Fill the Table Campaign as donors were invited to tour the new kitchen and dining room facilities. Food Services Manager Cheri Otterbein noted the vast improvements made in the kitchen and the challenges of feeding students in a construction zone. “When we moved into the new space it was ‘construction clean’, but we needed to make it ‘food services clean’, which meant that we had to wash every item that we own and, as a team, find the best locations for the knives, spices, and pots.”
This spring, several alumni gathered to see Jim Paterson’s (BA 1981) Triumphal Entry sculpture that was featured as part of “Crossings, a journey to Easter” art exhibition in Toronto. In describing it, Jim wrote, “I started this art piece with a worn old slice of hand-hewn barn beam which grew into an animated, sinewy, wire sculpture crammed with the colours of my childhood and outline memories of people bobbing up and down in enthusiastic expectancy of Jesus turning into our street as part of His triumphal entry procession. I imagine the people on my street energized as we cry out ‘Baruch habah b’Shem Adonai.’”
For many businesses and organizations, the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on fiscal vulnerabilities. In Grebel’s case, we can clearly see that having a full residence is critical not only for a vibrant program but also for a balanced budget.
After years of hammering, drilling, and intricate planning, the kitchen and dining room expansion at Grebel is finally complete. It all began with the ambitious “Fill the Table” fundraising campaign, where over 1000 alumni and other donors contributed over $4.2m to expand and renovate Grebel’s kitchen and dining space.
The fall term started with a brand-new kitchen facility opening for operations in late August. “We were thrilled to have a new, bright, and expanded space,” said Cheri Otterbein, Food Services Manager, “even if some of the equipment wasn’t totally functional when we opened.”
Budgets in the university sector are increasingly challenging, even without the COVID-19 pandemic. A tuition cut and freeze for students in Ontario has meant a reduction in revenue for Grebel by $227,000 this year.
“We are thrilled by the generous response from alumni, parents, and other supporters,” said Roger Kehl, who serves as Grebel’s Board representative on the Fill the Table Fundraising Advisory committee, at the February Board meeting.
Director of Operations Paul Penner reports that “the Ontario Ministry of Labour gave permission to continue the construction of Grebel’s new kitchen and dining room expansion, in spite of restrictions brought about by COVID-19. The general contractor, Nith Valley Construction, is proceeding very carefully and has numerous safeguards in place, including limiting the number of workers on site at any given time.
Alumni, family groups, friends and roommates from throughout Grebel’s history have joined together to name tables—a symbolic level of donation to the kitchen and dining room project. One of these tables has been named for Arnie Dyck (1945–2017) by his family and friends.
On April 23, Student Council president Madeleine Neufeld was one of the participants putting a silver spade in the ground to officially start the next building project at Grebel, which will expand and enhance the kitchen and dining room. Her participation is part of a long family tradition of building projects at Grebel. In 1963 her Grandfather John Neufeld was part of the building committee for the original college building.
This has been a record setting year for donations at Grebel. April 30 is our fiscal year-end, and the total number of donations of $2.8m has eclipsed the previous high water mark of $2,288,645 set in 2012-13 during our last capital campaign. This year, donors established three new endowed scholarship awards in addition to adding thousands to existing scholarship award funds.
This winter, the University of Waterloo declared not one, but two, campus closures due to inclement weather. While most staff enjoyed a day off, it was business as usual for the Food Services staff at Grebel.
A New Kitchen and Dining Room Will Make Space for Community
Since the College was first built more than 55 years ago, Grebel’s residence has grown, apartments were added, and our classrooms, library, archives and other academic program spaces have all expanded dramatically. However, our kitchen and dining room are largely the same as they were in 1964. It’s now time to reinvest in these important facilities. We’re pleased to share plans to build a new kitchen and dining room, which we hope to begin in May 2019.