News & Events at Concordia

New campus plaza improves students' experiences at Concordia

Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014
C. G.
C. G. "Kelly" and Virginia Holthus of York, Nebraska, receive thanks for their lead gift for Concordia University, Nebraska's outdoor plaza, which was named in their family's honor and dedicated on Oct. 27 in Seward. Pictured (l-r): Concordia President Br

The C. G. “Kelly” and Virginia Holthus Family Plaza was dedicated at Concordia on Monday, Oct. 27. The plaza, a new outdoor gathering space just north of the university’s Janzow Campus Center, is named after the project’s lead donors, Kelly and Virginia Holthus of York, Nebraska. Approximately 500 guests were in attendance.

Campus Pastor Ryan Matthias opened the event by leading the university’s daily chapel service, which was held on the plaza for the first time. The Brass Ensemble, directed by Dr. Wendy Schultz, adjunct faculty at Concordia, accompanied the congregation during the hymn “Built on the Rock.” The University A Cappella Choir performed “A Stable Lamp is Lighted” under the direction of Professor of Music Dr. Kurt von Kampen.

Concordia President Brian Friedrich led the dedication ceremony, first thanking those in attendance and recognizing special guests before sharing comments and appreciation for the Holthus family.

“Kelly and Virginia have shared their blessings, firmly believing that what they have, God has first given to them, and through their public example and leadership, encouraged others to give as well,” said Friedrich. “Today it is our joy to honor Kelly, Virginia and their family and to give thanks to God for their Christian stewardship and faithful support, which has made the idea of this plaza become a reality.”

Three members of the Concordia community then expressed appreciation to the Holthus family for the plaza. Tallie Elbert, a junior secondary education major from Albuquerque, New Mexico, represented the student body, saying, “To you this may just look like another college full of vivacious students and wise, old professors, but, to me and to so many other students, this is home. To me and to so many other students, this is not just a community—it is a family. Thank you for helping build this home.” 

Rev. Dirk Reek, assistant professor of theology, and Rehema Kavugha, director of student development, shared comments on behalf of Concordia’s faculty and staff, respectively.

Friedrich then dedicated the space, sharing Bible verses and prayer before inviting Kelly and Virginia Holthus to join him in front of the crowd to receive thanks. In brief comments, Kelly Holthus noted that he believed it was important to give people a chance to give, saying “Thank you for giving us the opportunity to give to Concordia.”

The ceremony closed with prayer and the doxology.

The plaza was designed to demonstrate the Christ-centeredness of Concordia and convey its mission visually. The plaza’s west end includes a fountain that comprises three vertical columns of illuminated water, metaphorically representing the Trinity. An unbroken, circular band of pavement forms the perimeter of the columns of water and contains Christ’s commission from Acts 1:8: “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

A “ribbon” proceeds from the circular band and creates an overlay pattern on the three levels of the plaza and adjacent landscape. The ribbon connects the engraved Concordia mission values—Learn, Serve and Lead—to the fountain and Christ’s words.

Elements of nature also contribute to the outdoor space. According to architect and plaza designer Dennis Scheer of Lincoln, Nebraska, the plaza’s erratics, large boulders moved by glaciers, represent the varied characteristics of the university’s students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends who are “moved by the Lord to and from points all over the world.” The plaza is also surrounded by new trees, shrubbery and grasses.

A native of Bertrand, Nebraska, Kelly Holthus has been associated with Cornerstone Bank of York, Nebraska, since 1965, where he currently serves as chairman and CEO. A past president of both the American Bankers Association and the Nebraska Bankers Association, as well as Chairman of the Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce, Kelly is currently treasurer of York General Health Care Services. A former director of Concordia Foundation Nebraska, Kelly has also served on the York City Council and with many other local, civic and philanthropic organizations.

Also a native of Bertrand, Nebraska, Virginia Holthus has been an active member of Faith Lutheran Church and the York General Health Care Auxiliary. Musically gifted, Virginia taught private piano lessons and served as the organist for two churches in York. She has also served as an officer of her local P.E.O. Group.