The University held a ground-breaking last week for the Ludwick Center for Spirituality, Cultural Understanding, and Community Engagement – which will be housed in a renovated and expanded version of Brandt Hall dormitory.
The ceremony had many guest speakers, including University President Devorah Lieberman and La Verne Mayor Don Kendrick. The center is expected to be up and running by the start of the fall semester.
“We know that education is not just about the academic programs, which are at the core, but it’s also about nurturing the whole person,” Lieberman said. “To understand each other’s culture and faiths and to know what it means to be a citizen giving back to each of our communities.”
In addition to a renovation of Brandt Hall, the construction will involve a complete upheaval of the University Chapel, so as to allow for three stories of interfaith discussion, academic success and student collaboration.
A new “sacred space” will also be available for all students, faculty, and community members as a replacement to the University Chapel.
“The new sacred space has been intentionally designed to build bridges between traditions respecting the differences and uniqueness of each spirituality so that the work of peace-making and justice-seeking can continue to take place,” Zandra Wagoner, university chaplain, said.
The University was founded by the Church of the Brethren, Wagoner said, and the new sacred space will be bringing together two of the major belief systems of that church so as to keep the heritage of the University relevant to today.
Wagoner explained that the belief of one’s focus of spirituality being at the center of the individual’s wisdom can be defined as pietism, while the belief of one’s focus of spirituality being at the center of the community wisdom can be defined as anti-baptism.
Wagoner said that both of these belief systems are being brought together as a whole through the center, so as to provide the student with the ability to grow and learn in all aspects.
“This new sacred space is a place that brings together the ability to explore our deepest values, to explore that small voice and grow it, to strengthen our identity and personal commitments,” Wagoner said. “While at the same time is also meant as a place to explore ourselves, and others in the context of community to build understanding across cultural, religious, and political difference,” she said.
The center will offer a third-floor area for academic course work for students, while the first and second-floor areas will offer suites and wings designed specifically for lectures regarding the values of the University, as well as interfaith dialogue and discussion.
Yoga classes, a meditation room, and study spaces will also be available.
“I know that we made the right decision to invest in and build this center, it is for the right reasons,” Lieberman said. “It brings together the educating of the whole person.”
The building of the Ludwick Center for Spirituality, Cultural Understanding, and Community Engagement is also part of the plans for Phase I of the university’s 2020 strategic vision.
“We are three quarters of the way through Phase I of our master plan when this project gets done,” said Clive Houston-Brown, vice president of human resources, information technology, facilities and safety. “We look forward to the completion of Phase I with the final project, the academic center.”
This new center was heavily financed by Art and Sarah Ludwick, of whom the building is being named after, as well as many other donors from around the La Verne community.
“La Verne as a city, and the University of La Verne, will forever be grateful for you, Art and Sarah, for your dedication to a better la Verne. It continues, today, on the principles of spirituality,” Kendrick said.
Jocelyn Arceo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.