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University Relations

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Feb. 22, 2005
Contact: John Scarffe, KU Endowment Association, (785) 832-7336.

Foundation donates $1 million for Multicultural Resource Center at KU

LAWRENCE -- A family whose ancestors immigrated to the United States to seek a better life has donated $1 million to help build a new Multicultural Resource Center at the University of Kansas, Steve Munch, KU student body president, announced today.

In 2004, the Sabatini Family Foundation pledged the funds to the Kansas University Endowment Association. The name of the donor was withheld until full funding for the $2.7 million facility was secured. Additional support for construction has been provided through student fees and other university funds.

" With an updated, larger facility at a more centralized and visible campus location, the Multicultural Resource Center will be able to better serve more students," said Munch, a junior from Bellevue, Neb. "On behalf of the student body, I thank the Sabatini family for this generous gift."

Dan Sabatini, who spoke on behalf of his family and the foundation, said the gift was a chance to help foster diversity and celebrate the contribution of various cultures within the KU community. The gift also reflects the experiences of his father's family, which in 1930 left Raiano, Italy, to escape the economic recession and to find new opportunities in the United States.

" My grandparents certainly weren't in the majority when they arrived in the United States, and there was a lot of discrimination toward Italian Catholics at the time," Sabatini said. "We felt like this gift was a good opportunity to support minorities in the United States and believe that it is vital to have continuing immigration and diversity in our culture."

Currently located in a renovated military annex building near Summerfield Hall, the Multicultural Resource Center was created in 1995 with a mandate to promote an educational environment that recognizes and celebrates the diverse composition of the KU campus population. Students come to the center to attend programs, study, and access tutors and other academic resources.

The center has gradually outgrown its current home. Santos Núñez, program director for the center, said the number of student visits to the center has skyrocketed from 415 during the 1999-2000 academic year to 7,312 visits during the 2003-2004 academic year.

The new 7,000-square-foot facility will be built on the north side of the Kansas Memorial Union with a separate front entrance on Jayhawk Boulevard. A site dedication ceremony is scheduled for March, and groundbreaking is planned for August or September. The center should be completed in fall of 2006, said Richard Johnson, chair of the center's building committee. He is the associate vice provost and dean of the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Success.

Students started a campaign to build a larger, more visible center in 2001. Jonathan Ng, student body president during the 2002-2003 academic year, included building a new center in his campaign platform.

" Our campaign for the new center was a reaction to the student body's desire to see construction move forward," said Ng, journalism '03 and now a law student at KU. "More students began to realize the potential of a new center as less a traditional center for minority students and more as an opportunity for all students to learn why and how diversity is important in all fields of study and in all aspects of life."

Under Ng's leadership, the KU Student Senate enacted a student fee that will raise more than $1.5 million over 10 years for the new facility.
Núñez said the new building will demonstrate KU's continuing support of multicultural education and awareness.

" By constructing this updated facility and placing it in a very visible location, the university is demonstrating its strong support for multicultural issues and that it welcomes all students," she said.

The Sabatini family includes Frank C. Sabatini, business '55 and law '57. A former state representative and member of the Kansas Board of Regents, he is chairman emeritus of Capital City Bank in Topeka, where he lives with his wife, Judith Sabatini. The four sons in the Sabatini family are Marc; Matt; Michael, architecture '82; and Dan, architecture '86.

The gift from the Sabatini Family Foundation counted toward the goal of KU First: Invest in Excellence, the third and largest fund-raising campaign for the University of Kansas. KU Endowment conducted KU First on behalf of KU from 1998 until 2004 and raised more than $653 million for scholarships, fellowships, professorships, capital projects and program support. KU Endowment serves as the independent, nonprofit fund-raising and fund-management organization for KU.


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