Evangel University President Mike Rakes on Tuesday discussed new development and academic projects coming to the school as part of his recently launched strategic plan.
Rakes, the February interview guest for the Springfield Business Journal’s People You Need to Know series 12, said two projects, improved theater lighting and a new marching band scholarship program, are designed to improve Evangel’s student experience, a key objective for the president who has six months in the job.
“A rising tide lifts all boats,” Rakes said, speaking from Alamo Drafthouse Springfield. “That’s what we see. The children are delighted. »
The upgraded theater lighting is coming to Evangel through a donation from a private donor, the university announced Tuesday. This spring, LED lighting and circuitry upgrades for the Barnett Fine Arts Center theater hall are expected to cost $50,000, according to a press release, upgrading the system to more than 30 lighting configurations from two.
“These lighting upgrades will further enhance our students’ hands-on experience on stage and enhance the visual elements of our many productions,” Vickie Wisdom, a theater teacher, said in the release.
At the 12 People event yesterday, Rakes also said school officials are reinvigorating the student marching band. He said the university was giving scholarships to the marching band as part of plans to increase attendance.
“It’s going to be awesome,” he said. “That sets Evangel apart from a lot of other schools.”
Contacted this morning, Evangel’s director of marketing and communications, Erin Hedlun, said the school’s marching band has been inactive for a few years due to low student numbers and COVID-19.
“His vision is that the group would continue to grow in numbers over the next few academic years and become a focal point of our university,” Hedlun said of Rakes’ scholarship program.
Evangel launched a trio of ongoing $1 million construction and renovation projects in December. A project featuring outdoor basketball courts with communal patio seating was unveiled, along with student union upgrades and a monument entrance sign.
It’s part of an 18-month strategic plan that Rakes is leading, he said yesterday.
“We call it the adaptable plan,” he said, noting that it’s accessible and achievable by staff.
Beyond student growth and experience, branding is also a key goal, he said.
Rakes suggested a fundraising campaign could be underway in about 18 months.
“I keep having this crazy feeling that it’s Evangel’s turn now,” he said.