Andover – Transferring Butler Community College’s operations from Andover High School to the college’s property on 13th street has been a major undertaking — and the fruits of those efforts are now being realized for students, faculty, staff, and the community. The remodel project cost the college more than $13 million dollars and had been foreseen for several years as the Andover School District prepared for their own building project.
The Andover Chamber hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, Nov. 12, outside the facility which featured Becky Wolfe, Director of the Andover Chamber, Andover Mayor Ronnie Price, Butler President Dr. Kim Krull, and Student Government Association President Keirsten Kamholz of Cottonwood Falls.
"I just want to thank Butler Community College for investing in our community," said Andover Mayor Ronnie Price. "And more importantly, for investing in our children to give them a head start. Before they get out of high school, they can have their wings spread to go on to other ventures and other colleges, but you (Butler) are the first step to them being productive young adults. I cannot tell you much I appreciate it."
Price spoke to the partnership between the city and the College as being a strong one, adding, "We hope, too, that this is a starting point for many great things to come and I just want to thank you all very much."
Words were also offered by the architectural and construction companies on the project. Vince Haines of Gravity :: Works took a moment to remind people how long Butler had really been working on establishing its Andover campus.
"This project started in 2000," he said. "It started with a master plan and a vision from the college at that time. . ."
He then noted the first project started in the winter of 2003 on the north end. Work then began to move south over the summers of 2005, 2006, 2008, and 2010 which at that time completed the central Student Union portion of the building. Work then moved even further south over the summers of 2012 and 2015. Then, in the spring of 2018 the final phase began.
"And, here we are today of 2020 for a total of 165,000 sq ft of educational and support space," Haines said. He also noted it was work carried on by multiple boards and two presidents.
"I think it’s a tribute to strategic planning and to sticking to a plan, and I think the college deserves a hand."
Bob Simpson of Simpson Constuction drove home the importance of the project’s economic impact to the area.
"I want to thank Dr. Krull on behalf of the literally hundreds of craftsmen and trades people who have toiled here for nearly two years," he said. "In a time when courage to continue was tough, a lot of projects in the Midwest were shut down with the pandemic and economic concerns. I am very grateful to owners who were courageous enough to keep us all employed, moving forward in a direction."
The project remodeled 65,000 sq ft of the 143,000 sq ft facility and now provides contemporary study spaces, new science and computer lab space as well as classrooms. To accommodate the addition of Butler’s services previously offered at Andover High School, the college’s Facilities Management department and the Engineering program were removed from the building all together. They are now housed in the new Facilities Management, Engineering and Construction Technology Building, a more than 18,000 sq ft building that sits just south of the 5000 Building. Earlier this fall, Butler Trustees approved the new Construction Technology program to begin August 2021.
"We are absolutely thrilled to be at this stage with our Andover complex," said Krull. "The remodel allowed us to move all of our student services into one location to benefit our students. For the first time, since signing our lease to purchase agreement in 2003, we are fully utilizing the entire space. Thank you to the Andover community, school district, and city administration for their support of our institution and our students. This is an exciting day for all of us."
Krull thanked architects Gravity :: Works of El Dorado, Simpson Construction of Wichita, and Connell and Connell for their guidance, vision and quality work in bringing this longtime vision to reality.
"This building will serve as a gateway to education, skills, training and ultimately the realization of dreams for countless individuals over the years to come," Krull said. "And, for those of us dedicated to that mission, we will be forever grateful."
Becky Wolfe, Andover Chamber Director, thanked everyone for coming and for honoring the college and its students, as "we are very fortunate to have them (Butler) here in Andover and we appreciate it very much."
New amenities for use by the community (in a post-COVID world) include the Kanza Conference Room, a 150-person space equipped with state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment, a holding kitchen and wi-fi. In addition, Great Western Dining, the college’s cafeteria service, has partnered with Starbucks to offer specialty drinks at the new Butler Bistro, and the library and bookstore can be accessed for various books and apparel.