Building a University House

February 16, 2017

George Breidenthal always preferred to work behind the scenes to advance Emporia State University and its programs. His substantial gifts to music, elementary education and women’s athletics — Lady Hornet basketball, in particular — cemented his standing as a quiet superfan always ready to support students. 

Now a new project at Emporia State is receiving support from Breidenthal’s family, after his passing in June 2015.

“Emporia State has always held a special place in our dad’s heart,” said McKenzie Breidenthal, George’s daughter.

On behalf of the Breidenthal Foundation, McKenzie and her brother, Ben, are honoring their father’s memory by making a $750,000 lead gift to start construction of what will be known as the Breidenthal University House.

The Breidenthal University House will offer appropriate space for entertaining alumni and donors and will be used to advance Emporia State University through our faculty, staff and students. The facility will also provide private living quarters for Emporia State’s president and family.

“Shane Shivley, Vice President for University Advancement and Foundation President, had approached us with the idea, since the university was in need of something new and suitable as a home for its president, and to be able to host alumni and student groups” said McKenzie Breidenthal.

“For my brother and I, it’s kind of a legacy thing, because we know how much the university meant to our dad, and we’re happy to be able to do something this impactful in Dad’s honor,” she continued.

George Breidenthal was a teacher, banker, community leader and philanthropist in his Kansas City, Kan., hometown. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kansas State Teachers College (now Emporia State) in 1972.

“Dad took full advantage of the entire college experience,” McKenzie recalled, noting that her father was a yell leader for the Hornets during his college days. 

“He was always very active as a coach in basketball for my brother and I. As I got older, he took me to some women’s games and fell in love with the atmosphere as he reconnected with Emporia State.”

For George Breidenthal, reconnecting with Emporia State also meant serving on ESU’s Alumni Association board of directors, then joining the ESU Foundation board of trustees. In a 2014 interview, he said, “What makes Emporia State stand out from other schools is that the coaches really promote academics. They realize athletics are great, but it’s really the student-athlete’s opportunity to get an education that’s important.”

McKenzie Breidenthal describes her father as a humble man, one who avoided the spotlight. “He always liked to stay in the background of things. But I will say he would have been very proud that my brother and I made the decision to go ahead with this gift.”

While neither sibling has academic ties with Emporia State, McKenzie knows she’s made some great connections with the university.

“We get now why Dad was so in love with it. The people there are so wonderful and welcoming. It’s a huge thank-you to the university and the community in general to be able to do this for him,” McKenzie concluded.

While George Breidenthal’s children are supporting the University House to honor their dad, two additional significant gifts to the project are coming from alumni whose contributions cap their service in the largest, most comprehensive fundraising effort in Hornet history — Now & Forever: The Campaign for Emporia State University.

Carolyn Langenwalter (BSE-Elementary Education ’64, MS-Educational Administration ’69) and Steve (BSB-Business Administration ’68) and Bobbi Sauder are helping the University House project become reality with their gifts. A total of $1.4 million has been received from the three donations.

Langenwalter, from Wichita, was a co-chair of the Now & Forever campaign. Steve Sauder of Emporia served as the campaign’s Champion for Athletics, leading efforts to raise money for athletic scholarships and facility improvements.   

“As we launched this initiative, we identified a select number of donors who were dedicated in their passion for Hornet Nation and would consider giving above and beyond the investments they have already made for our students,” said the Foundation’s Shivley.

“It speaks volumes to join forces with campaign chairs who understand the significance of a University House,” Shivley continued. “Steve and Bobbi Sauder and Carolyn Langenwalter have shown their confidence in the impact this facility will have on our campus for many years into the future.”

The bell ringing celebrating the Breidenthal Foundation, Langenwalter and Sauder gifts marked Emporia State’s fourth consecutive day of celebrations during Now & Forever Campaign Celebration Week, a week-long series of events that culminate with the unveiling of the Now & Forever Campaign grand total on Feb. 18.

 

About Now & Forever

Now and Forever: The Campaign for Emporia State University, set out with a working goal to raise $45 million through the most comprehensive campaign in university history. Determined to build spirit, camaraderie and a sense of pride in Hornet Nation, we decided to share our victories. By ringing Silent Joe during each celebration, we announce to the world that the Hornet Nation is Silent No More.

For more information on the Breidenthal University House and opportunities to contribute to the project, contact Shane Shivley, Vice President for University Advancement and Foundation President, at 620-341-6988.

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