When We'll Be Sipping the New Brew

Posted more than a year ago.

Yesterday was one of those days that just felt good. On the other end of a hard-fought victory—that was ultimately won by many people other than me—I got the privilege of sharing the awesome news: we’re getting a new cafeteria and coffee shop!

*cue blood-pumping power ballad here*

How’d we do it?

Well, as is usually the case, our job was merely to believe and to inspire. The heavy lifting fell to a group of wonderfully sacrificial families, companies, and foundations who love our students so much and who are so inspired by our community that they covered the $5.6 million bill.

That’s not usually how we frame the philanthropic process, but that’s the powerfully humbling truth. People that you and I hardly know, that we may never meet, are investing millions so that we (you and me, not the donors) can eat and commune together in comfort and in style.

I see this kind of selfless giving happen all the time. It still blows my mind.

We all owe a special thanks to the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation, the E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation, United Dining, several members of our Board of Trustees, more than a few student and employee families, and to many more special community partners.*

*I’d love to name all of these awesome people for you now, but our donors tend to be humble people. I never shine a spotlight without pretty explicit permission!

What’s next?

This is what you really want to know, right? A big pool of money is great and everything, but in terms of intrinsic personal value, a stack of dyed wood pulp has nothing on some hot java with friends. Money is only fuel, after all. Once we have it, it’s why and how we use that fuel that counts. And we’re committed to using it wisely, respectfully, and with a constant desire for maximizing kingdom value.

Here’s how we’re going to use the money:

  • $551,027 (approx.) is going to build the coffee shop. We have this money. In cash. Right now. That means planning just got real.
  • $4,246,182 (approx.) is earmarked for the cafeteria. We have over half of this money, in cash. The other half is pledged and will be paid out over the next 18 months. Based on the cash we need to get started, work could begin as early as spring semester 2017.
  • $850,000 will fund a long-term maintenance endowment for the cafeteria. We invest all of this money as principal and spend out of the interest to fund future repairs and upkeep on the facility. Think of this fund as an insurance policy that ensures the new space never becomes an undue burden on the OC budget (or, in turn, on future students). This fund is pledged and will be paid in full by May 2020.

This big-picture cash flow should give you some insight into when changes could happen on our campus. We already have the cash needed for the coffee shop, for example, which means planning for that construction is underway (!!!). Our Executive Vice President, Dr. Bill Goad, and his teams are working with architects and contractors right now to finalize a roadmap for the build and to set a start date.

However, as anyone in the construction business will tell you, many factors can impact the timeline on a project like the coffee shop. From the cost and availability of materials, to the findings of more extensive architectural studies, to the timing of permits and other paperwork, to surprises on the job site and more, it’s a minefield of quirks and unforeseen adjustments.

Taking those earliest quirks into account, though, I can tell you with a lot of confidence that you will see work happen on the coffee shop this summer. How much? I’m not sure. But I’m selfishly hoping it’s a lot.**

**I can hear the bags crinkle and the beans grind already. Oh, and the smell. That sweet, sweet aroma that almost singlehandedly resuscitates my sleep-deprived brain every morning. Oh, pray for me and my wallet.

But really. When's the coffee coming?

Of course, I’ll update you on progress when the hammers start to fall. Until then, however, I’m afraid all the quirks prevent me from promising you much regarding a date for the grand opening. (I know. I’m sad, too.)

BUT, since I like some juicy teasers as much as the next guy, I can tell you this…

When the cold weather hits each fall—and I hear 2016 could be an especially frosty one—the President sure likes his coffee.

No promises. :)