Donor pledges $300,000 toward new facility for Truman State BSU
By Bob Baysinger
April 27, 2004
KIRKSVILLE – An anonymous donor has pledged $300,000 toward the building of a new Baptist Student Union building on the Truman State University campus.
“The donor said he would rather not be identified,” said Gene Austin, BSU director at Truman State. “He is the parent of a former student. He saw how the BSU impacted their child and how God had blessed them in an amazing way. That’s why they decided to bless us.”
The gift comes at a time when there is a need for additional BSU space on the Kirksville campus.
“The BSU here has been strong for a long time,” Austin said. “I’ve talked to some people who were active in BSU back in the mid-1970s. They said it was a good-sized group back then. The decision to go to two services (on Tuesday evening) was made before I got here.
“But we’re averaging about 200 now every Tuesday night. We’ve done this for the last couple of years, and we need more space.”
The increase in Tuesday night attendance is no accident. The growth coincides with the start of the “ Damascus Road ” outreach program at the Truman State BSU.
“We decided we wanted to impact more students,” Austin said. “We moved intentionally to a more outward focus. We have also started a service-oriented outreach on Thursday night by becoming more a part of the campus culture. We’re trying to permeate a lot of the campus.”
There are about 6,000 students at Truman State . Austin estimates about 25 percent of the student body is involved in some type of Christian activity.
“This campus has a pretty strong Christian base – especially for a liberal arts university,” Austin said. “Students coming to this school sometimes are shocked by the number of Christians we have on the campus.”
Austin has led the Missouri Southern Baptist students at Kirksville to join in the Lakeside competition, which involves various university organizations. The Truman State “ Damascus Road ” group has won the competition the last two years.
“We’re just trying to get our name out there,” Austin said. “As we’re coming to the end of the semester, we’ll be making cookies and giving them away. We’ll also be handing out drinks.”
The only problem Austin now has is trying to decide how and where to locate a new building.
“We’re located on one of the corners of an intersection. We have an empty lot behind us. We’re looking at taking our building down and putting up a building that will cover both lots,” Austin explained. “But we also have to be concerned about the city’s parking regulations.
“It will be challenging to fit a building into the space we now have. We have some architects and designers helping us with what we can and cannot do.”