September 9, 2011
KANSAS CITY, Mo - - “A sign that represents a sign of open arms” – that’s how Avila president Ron Slepitza, Ph.D., described the university’s new monument signage to a gathering of about 100 people braving the late-summer heat under a white tent in front of Goppert Theatre the evening of Aug. 31.
It was a sign that said to students both present and prospective to take advantage of what Avila’s campus has to offer, Slepitza said. The floral arrangement in the shape of the Avila insignia even served as an arrow, pointing students out into the community to fulfill the university’s mission of serving the dear neighbor.
“It speaks to what we want our students to be,” Slepitza told his audience as they enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and refreshments. “It also represents what’s happening here now.”
That would be the some $10 million of improvements and renovations taking place around campus which include the new Mabee Pavilion, a turfed Zarda Sports Complex and renovations to the Marian dining hall and Whitfield lounge among others.
The monument signs and many other capital improvements have been made possible by the generous contributions of civic leaders and benefactors such as Tom and Jeanne Olofson, who were present at the dedication. Slepitza commented on the presence of dragonflies, which always have been a favorite of Jeanne’s for their symbolism of positive change, power and poise. The dragonflies hovered over the signage, which Slepitza identified as a divine inspiration at the event, which was also attended by Kansas City 6th District Councilman John Sharp and members from both the Red Bridge and Somerset homes associations.
“Jeanne has been a person of vision, of inspiration,” Slepitza said. “She sees an Avila that perhaps we don’t see ourselves. She pushes us, and we’re better for it.”
Jeanne Olofson said she was humbled by the recognition and her experience at Avila, where she holds undergraduate, graduate and doctorate degrees.
“I’ve pushed sometimes and wondered, oops … they can’t take away my degrees, can they?,” she said to much laughter. Avila has to make an impression. Our signage never reflected the quality of education inside. First impressions are important.
“I think this is just the beginning for Avila. I think there are more visions on the horizon.”
> Photos from the event coming soon.
Avila University is a private, co-educational, values-based liberal arts institution founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, offering undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree programs. Avila University is located at 119th and Wornall Rd in southwest suburban Kansas City, Mo.