Dignitaries take part in historic groundbreaking of Cowley College-Sumner Campus

Keynote Speaker Dr. Jeff Colyer, Lieutenant Governor of Kansas and future Governor, was on hand for the ground breaking of the Cowley College project.

By Rama Peroo, Special to Sumner Newscow — The dream is becoming a reality. Through hard work and vision from numerous individuals, the groundbreaking ceremonies for Cowley College’s Sumner Campus took place Wednesday, October 11 in Wellington.

The location of the future campus is east of Walmart along U.S. Highway 160. Due to recent rain, the groundbreaking ceremony was held next door to the site in the Walmart parking lot.

More than 270 individuals attended the event, which featured comments from Kansas Lieutenant Governor Dr. Jeff Colyer (Keynote Speaker); Marjorie Short, Owner of the Short Land Company; Michael E. Zamrzla, Deputy State Director of U.S. Senator Jerry Moran’s Office; Debbie Luper, District Director of U.S. Congressman Ron Estes’ Office; Kansas State Representative Anita Judd-Jenkins; Kansas Senator Larry Alley; Kansas State Representative Ed Trimmer; Dr. Blake Flanders; President and CEO of the Kansas Board of Regents; Ray Frederick, Chair of the Kansas Postsecondary Technical Education Authority; Clifford Bales, Chair of the Sumner County Commission; Stacy Davis, Executive Director of Sumner County Economic Development Commission; Bob Juden, Chair of the Cowley College Board of Trustees; and Cowley College President Dr. Dennis C. Rittle.


Kansas Lieutenant Governor Dr. Jeff Colyer said this was a historic day and is something that Kansans are extremely proud of.
“This is so life changing for the future of our children,” Dr. Colyer said. “Thank you to this community and the great leadership of Dr. Rittle. We are Cowley Proud because we are Sumner Strong.”

Dr. Dennis Riddle spoke about the long journey to get to this point.

Along with these instrumental individuals, Dr. Rittle also thanked Campus Operations Officer Jan Grace and the groundbreaking committee. He also thanked the advance groundbreaking ceremony team, faculty, staff, administrators, student ambassadors, spirit squad, and criminal justice students who helped with the event, the cross-sectional campus planning committee comprised of citizens from across Sumner County, and his wife, Christy, for her unwavering support.

Lastly, he had every citizen of Sumner County stand to receive a prolonged round of applause for their bravery and courage to support this project.

Photo of Cowley College Board members along with Kansas Lieutenant Governor Dr. Jeff Colyer, Marjorie Short and Cowley president Dr. Dennis C. Rittle.

On November 8, 2016, Sumner County voters made history by approving the passage of a half-cent county sales tax to construct a comprehensive Cowley College campus in the heart of Sumner County to provide workforce training and educational services for the businesses and citizens of Sumner County and the surrounding regions.

This act of trust and generosity was followed quickly by the generosity of Marjorie Short to donate the land for the new campus and most recently followed by the galvanizing partnership forged between the College and the City of Wellington in authoring a Developer’s Agreement to share the costs of designing the campus infrastructure.

Marjorie Short speaks a few words at Cowley College groundbreaking ceremony.

Marjorie Short, the wife of the late Bill Short, is the owner of Short Land Company, LLC, and the donor of the 18 acres of property just east of Walmart along Highway 160. In honor of the donation, the family received naming rights to the General Education Center.

“I love talking about Cowley College and am so thrilled to drive by and see all the work going on out here,” Short said. “I am proud to be a part of it. I know my late husband, Bill, would be pleased to know what we did in donating the land. I have already gotten great joy from our donation. Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible. We will continue to make it great.”

The Technical Center is expected to open in the fall of 2018 followed by the opening of the Short General Education Center in the fall of 2019.

The future building of what is known as the Short General Education Center.

Agriculture, manufacturing, computer science, first-responders and education programs will be the initial slate of programs offered at the Sumner campus.

Cowley College Board Chair Bob Juden said the College is at the apex of the dreams they envisioned a few years ago.
“We are now in the eye of communities all around the nation,” Juden said. “For a country boy this is huge. I am grateful to be a part of it.”

Cowley College officials were in full force including the Tiger mascot.

Dr. Rittle, reminisced that this has been a grassroots journey, spanning more than two years with countless interactions, passionate exchanges, and personal sacrifices.

“It is the Sumner County residents who showed the bravery to trust in what higher education can be,” Dr. Rittle said. “This is something for Sumner County to wrap its arms around and say this is our future.”

Agora Architecture had 3D Virtual Modeling goggles available at the groundbreaking ceremonies for individuals to get an interactive first look at the Sumner Campus before it is constructed. In addition, large paper-based renderings were available for public viewing.

People in attendance got to see 3-D renditions of the project once completed.

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