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Construction Begins on ESU’s Breidenthal University House

September 6, 2018

With fundraising complete, crews broke ground recently for Emporia State’s new Breidenthal University House. When completed in October 2019, the 5,708-square-feet facility will be about evenly divided between private living space for the ESU president and family and a fully separate public entertaining space.

Emporia architect Dave Emig designed the space with input from the University House Task Force. Mitchell-Markowitz Construction of Emporia is the general contractor.

Dr. Jackie Vietti served as interim ESU president from June to November 2015 and helped launch the University House project.

"One of the greatest highlights of my professional career was to serve as interim president of Emporia State University, due to the caliber and dedication of the faculty and staff and the quality of its academic programs and services, which are rivaled by few other colleges," said Vietti. "That said, I discovered some issues that commanded attention, including the dire need for suitable on-campus living space for the new president, a requirement of the Kansas Board of Regents, as well as a warm, inviting venue for the broader community. I was privileged to work with the Foundation to launch the privately funded University House project and am thrilled with the progress to date. Once again, Emporia State is leading the way."

Lana Oleen, former chairman of the ESU Foundation and founding member of the University House Task force agreed.

“More than three years ago we knew Emporia State needed a new residence for its president," she said. "I am excited for the many ways our current and future presidents can use the public spaces to build relationships with university constituents.”

Fundraising of the $1.8 million in private funds was completed July 27. That amount includes an estimated $1.5 million for construction, furnishing and landscaping, with the remainder being placed into an endowment fund of $300,000 for ongoing renewal of the property. 

Emporia State University thanked the lead donors — The Breidenthal Foundation of Kansas City, Carolyn Langenwalter of Wichita and Steve and Bobbi Sauder of Emporia — at a celebration in February 2017.

“Ben and I believed this project was important to get involved in because a University House needs to be the central place for building relationships and a community feel,” said McKenzie Breidenthal, who, with her brother, Ben, contributed to the project in her father’s honor. “We are both extremely grateful that, despite neither of us being Emporia State graduates, we have always felt a sense of community and a very welcoming environment, much like what we hope the University House will provide.”  

Since February 2017, an additional 53 individuals and organizations have made monetary gifts to make the concept a reality; including 46 current and past members of the ESU Foundation Board of Trustees. 

“When we committed to this project, we agreed not to break ground until we had raised all the funding,” noted Shane Shivley, president and CEO of the ESU Foundation. “Seeing the heavy equipment preparing the site for foundation work is gratifying. Along with work on Schallenkamp Hall and Prophet Aquatic Research and Outreach Center, the Breidenthal University House is a visible reminder that Emporia State is investing in the future.”

For more information about the Breidenthal University House, including a timeline, see





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