Iowa Wesleyan University gained a new residence hall this year thanks to the donation of the former Pleasant Manor Care Center building by owner Linda Juckette, who announced during the building’s dedication on Friday that the Juckettes also will sponsor up to a $10,000 scholarship for nursing students each year.
Although IW students have been making the new dormitory home since moving in at the end of August, Juckette Hall was dedicated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony held on Friday, Oct. 5, at the start of IW’s homecoming festivities. Juckette Hall sits just a block away from IW’s campus at 413 N. Broadway Street in Mt. Pleasant.
“God had been very good to me and I wanted to be very good back to God,” Juckette said during the dedication ceremony. “I wanted to feel his vision — what he had for me to do … I had a dream, I had a vision and I needed to make that vision a reality.”
Juckette Hall is the first $1 million gift to IW in over a decade, IW President Steve Titus said. While administrators have worked hard over the past five years to create a future for IW, Titus said it’s important people understand the university remains financially fragile.
“It’s a tough time for colleges and universities,” Titus said. “That’s why we work so hard to keep this going and going and going. We will not be a statistic. The only way this university can continue to accomplish is with people like Linda Juckette. People who see the value and see the mission, believe in it and connect with it and say, ‘Yes, I want to be a part of that and I’m going to invest significantly and philanthropically to make sure the institution thrives.’”
Additionally, Juckette announced the scholarship opportunity for nursing students during the dedication of Juckette Hall, prompting IW President Steve Titus to express an honored and surprised “wow.”
“It’s no secret in our state and in our United States that there is a real nursing shortage in our country,” Juckette said. “The more we can get those kids out in the field and train them and get them started in nursing … we’d like to facilitate that and teach those kids.”
The vision to donate the Pleasant Manor building began to form after Juckette took over the Iowa division of the company on Nov. 1, 2014. She spent two weeks walking around Pleasant Manor and praying about what she was to do next.
The next phone call she made was to City Administrator Brent Schleisman, whom she told she wanted to find land for a new care center, now Savannah Heights at 601 S. Prairie Ave. in Mt. Pleasant, and then wanted to donate Pleasant Manor.
Juckette’s requirements were that the building be donated to a Christian organization who would take care of it and use it for the purpose of education. All signs pointed to IW.
During the dedication ceremony, Titus said the donation of Juckette Hall to the university was a blessing as the university sees an all-time high in retention and enrollment numbers continue to climb. The university, straining to find enough space for all their students, found themselves needing to move quickly in July of this year.
That made the move Pleasant Manor to Savannah Heights “hustle their bustle,” Juckette said, a step they were ready to take.
Titus thanked Sean Gray, physical plant director at IW, for the “miraculous job” he and his team did in preparing the building and ordering furniture for students in just a couple weeks.
“It’s inspiring what happens when people come together,” Titus said.
Anthony Washington, resident assistant at Juckette Hall and Class of 2020, said Juckette Hall has already found a culture different from the other dorms. It’s more quiet, laid-back, relaxed and peaceful, he said.
As one of the first resident assistants in Juckette, Washington said how the culture of the hall forms this year will determine how it continues to grow and become a community. One of his favorite memories already this year is walking out to see his residents setting up kidding pools in back, throwing footballs and kicking around soccer balls.
“I am really tickled,” Juckette said. “The kids love it and there’s a waiting list to get in (to Juckette Hall).
“This is a great, great city,” she continued. “I love Mt. Pleasant, I love that southeastern heart of the state. We’re very fortunate to be down here, very fortunate to have Iowa Wesleyan.”