Message from the President – Jesuit Residence Construction and Near-Term Impact

I was so pleased to share the news last month at Convocation that we will be constructing a new Jesuit residence on our campus above and alongside 24th Street. The new residence will allow for renewed expressions of Jesuit presence, hospitality, prayer, conversation, spiritual direction, and more. But it also means that one of the most sacred and spiritual places on our campus will be, for some time, a construction zone. I wanted to share those details with you.

We have undertaken a painstaking process to identify and save as many trees as possible, but some removal will need to take place as part of the project, on the west and east side of the Jesuit Gardens, and alongside 24th Street. The historic and mature trees within the interior of the garden will not only be maintained but given extra care throughout the construction of the new residence.

Make no mistake that we agonize over the removal of any tree on Creighton’s campus. We remain a proud designee of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Campus USA status for our commitment to both create and maintain a superb urban forest and foliage, and I assure you that promise will be kept. For every tree that is removed as part of this project, we intend to plant several more, in such a way that extends the beauty of the gardens and alongside 24th Street. I am proud of our impressive track-record for doing so.

In addition to trees, we will also plant a wide variety of indigenous plants that will serve to beautify the gardens and make them even more spectacular. Finally, every tree removed will be sustainably recycled for other purposes.

After careful deliberation and professional assessment, we have also made the very difficult decision to remove the old observatory as part of this project. As many know, the observatory has been in decline for many years, and because of safety concerns, access has been denied for decades. I am pleased that Creighton students can still observe the stars via a high-tech, robotic telescope that was purchased through National Science Foundation funding to the Physics Department, and is stationed at the Creighton University Retreat Center in Griswold, Iowa. Still, it goes without saying that the observatory is iconic and has held a place of distinction since the early days of Creighton’s campus.

Fr. Joseph Rigge, SJ, for whom Rigge Science Building is named, originally conceived the observatory as a place to house Creighton’s telescope to protect it from the elements, and John A. Creighton was able to secure funding for a proper observatory. It is within this observatory that so many Creighton students had an opportunity to observe the stars and the heavens. We intend to honor that history by using portions of the observatory for a new structure – a memorial – that will be an impressive, meaningful addition to the gardens.

Lastly, it is worth noting that as we replace the furniture in the new Jesuit residence, the old pieces will not be discarded, but given to refugees in need.

I remain so thankful that Creighton is positioned to grow, doing so in a way that is attentive and thoughtful of both the beauty of our campus and its rich history. I am also appreciative of your patience and understanding during the construction of this project and others across campus. Count on us to keep you updated on that progress.

Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD

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