William Jewell Making Big Moves
William Jewell College is making some big changes, including The Link project now under construction.

Clay County’s oldest institution of higher learning is looking to the future.

Founded in 1849, William Jewell College is enjoying a significant growth spurt, an academic effort recently boosted by a financial gift.

The financial gift comes from Liberty alumni Mark and Karen Mathes, along with Jared and Mary Mathes and the entire Mathes family. Their contribution will fund the new Mathes Innovation Center opening on campus this fall.

The unique center supports students and local entrepreneurs from their business proposal through the investment process. Members will gain business and technological acumen while immersed in Jewell’s culture of critical thought and inquiry. Center staff will curate interested investors on behalf of the Mathes Innovation Center’s members to create a true one-stop shop. 

“There are many great ideas that never come to fruition due to the lack of infrastructure and assistance provided to the entrepreneur,” said Jared Mathes, ’09. “The Center is an opportunity for students and business founders to test ideas and present them to all investor classes, pivoting from the more traditional investment style.”

An indispensable service of the Mathes Innovation Center is close collaboration with identified investors that will vet and present opportunities for funding. For Jewell students, this means mentorship in launching a business that will generate profit to help fund their education.

In addition to Jewell students and staff, the Center is open to area community members, entrepreneurs, innovators and current small business owners. Other offerings of the Center will include events, programs, ideation, business plan competitions, coaching, networking, curriculum, funding options and more to foster innovation and business development.

For more information, visit jewellinnovation.com.

The Link

An even larger project is the Link, WJC’s effort to reimagine its southeast entrance and create a new multiuse area featuring the Link Building, a 56,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art multipurpose facility for health and wellness, fitness, athletics, academic studio and classrooms and social space.

Construction on this project began in June and completion will come in two phases. Phase one will include the new Ascent Road, The Grove, the hillside terraces, the east side of the art walk, two new parking lots, the amphitheater stadium and underground infrastructure and utilities to create the pad-ready site for The Link building. Phase two of the project includes construction of The Link building. Phase one is slated for completion in late 2023 and the second phase in 2024.

The centerpiece of the project is the Link Building, a state-of-the-art multipurpose facility for health and wellness, fitness, athletics, academic studio and classrooms, and social space. The Link will specifically include fitness and workout rooms, a dance and event studio, a sports medicine facility and locker rooms for the football, basketball and volleyball teams.

The Link’s performance arena will include basketball and volleyball courts for practice and competition and a second-floor walking and running track. Bleachers on all sides of the gym floor will give flexibility for game-day spectators, as well as campus-wide functions, including matriculation and graduation ceremonies.

Several highlights are outdoors, with extensive landscaping to better connect the new building with the existing campus and, on the other side, the existing football stadium and track. An unused hillside will become a series of four large, flattened terrace spaces for outdoor gatherings or classes, a sculpture garden that is part of the Kemper Art Walk, a multiuse path and recreation spaces.

These elements will serve the entire William Jewell College community, as well as the broader area through camps, sporting events, collegiate conference championships, community events, campus celebrations and student recruitment.

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