Brite expanding with $1.5 million grant


Brite Divinity School received the approval of a $1.5 million challenge grant after five years of fundraising for a new academic building.

The fundraising project combined the efforts of Brite and the university to update Brite’s facilities on campus.

The challenge grant was approved by the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation for the purpose of aiding Christian religious organizations and institutions of higher learning. Brite received the grant under the condition that it would raise the remaining balance needed to complete what it calls its “Building a Brite Future Campaign.”

Brite President D. Newell Williams said the school needed the new academic building for additional space. The new W. Oliver and Nell A. Harrison Building will provide 24,000 square feet for new classrooms, seminar rooms, a technology-enhanced preaching laboratory, faculty and administrative offices and an area designated for lectures, musical events and dining functions.

The new building will be situated directly east of the current Wayne and Jo Ann Moore Building on Brite’s property, he said.

Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Brian Gutierrez wrote in an e-mail that although there will be setbacks to allow for construction of the academic building, he did not anticipate that it will cause any major disruption of daily campus activities.

Williams said the current Moore Building simply did not offer enough space.

“[It’s a] wonderful location, wonderful building, but only 17,000 square feet and for over 200 students and over 20 faculty, that’s not a lot of space,” Williams said.

According to a Star-Telegram article, approximately $15 million is needed for the construction and operation of the new building.

Williams said he was optimistic that funds will be met because of the hundreds of donations totalling over $12 million already received. He said there were some donors who already gave but wanted to increase their contribution.

Brite had faced financial challenges in the past. The most recent was negotiations to determine how much Brite owed the university for using the school’s facilities and services.

According to a 2009 Skiff report, concerns were raised when the university raised Brite’s payment to more than double the previous payment.

According to the Brite Divinity School website, the university and Brite supported a collaborative relationship, although they are completely separate institutions.

Both Williams and Chancellor Victor Boschini said the issue was resolved with mutual satisfaction from both parties.

Boschini said that according to tax law, the university was not permitted to give money to contribute to the funding. However, members from both institutions came together to raise the funds which made a breakthrough with the approval of the grant.

The challenge grant was the second grant made to Brite by the Mabee Foundation. The last one was made 10 years ago in order to fund a residential complex for students.