Featured Testimonial About Creighton University
Today’s dedication not only marks the culmination of a project many years in the making but honors the generous individuals and organizations who have made it a reality.
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By Micah Mertes
On May 5, lead donors, community leaders and Creighton University representatives formally dedicated one of the most pivotal campus transformations in decades — Keough Plaza, Haddix Circle and Physicians Mutual Crossing at 24th Street.
The reimagining of the 24th Street corridor between Cass and Cuming Streets is significant for its revitalization of the door to North Omaha, for the beauty it’s brought to Creighton’s core and for the greater safety it’s created for the thousands of pedestrians and drivers using the street and crosswalk daily.
“Today’s dedication not only marks the culmination of a project many years in the making but honors the generous individuals and organizations who have made it a reality,” said Creighton President the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD. “Because of them, this intersection now provides a welcoming presence for visitors to Creighton and helps to ensure safe crossing for pedestrians between two increasingly busy areas of campus.”
To make the project a reality, about 90,000 square feet of campus were renovated at a total cost of $7.67 million. Many alumni and friends made the improvements possible, with three lead donors honored in the project’s name: Physicians Mutual; Gilbert, BA’72, and Kathy Soto, BSN’75, in memory of Kathy’s parents, Marilyn and Donald Keough, BS’49, HON’82; and Susan and George Haddix, MA’66, PhD.
George Haddix grew up in a neighborhood near campus, attending Omaha North High School and later earning his master’s degree from Creighton, where he eventually became a faculty member.
“It’s very meaningful for us to contribute to a project that honors both the history and future of Creighton and Omaha,” Haddix said. “We are happy to be a part of this moment.”
Since the Haddix Circle’s completion, the University has seen the benefits of the roundabout daily. Haddix Circle, located a block south of the California Plaza intersection, has slowed speeding vehicles as they approach the pedestrian crossing that connects campus, resolving a longtime safety concern.
The updates to Physicians Mutual Crossing, meanwhile, have also made walking to each end of campus safer. With 24th Street narrowed from four lanes to two, pedestrians now have a shorter distance to cross, while medians between lanes and short posts diverting traffic have increased safety further.
In a nod to Creighton’s history, Physicians Mutual Crosswalk was able to retain its longtime walk signal recording, due in large part to a strong alumni response. Many former students affectionately recalled hearing the recording of “Walk signal to cross 24th Street is now on” thousands of times over the course of their years at Creighton. The 30-year-old voice signal is the last remaining feature of an otherwise revitalized crossing.
“We are incredibly honored for Physicians Mutual to carry the name of a crosswalk that has gotten so many safely across campus,” said Rob Reed, CEO and President of Physicians Mutual, husband of Stacie, BA’89, and son of Betsy and Bob Reed, BSBA’61. “We’re also thrilled that this crossing is more beautiful than it’s ever been.”
The third pillar of 24th Street’s overhaul is Keough Plaza, which, Father Hendrickson said, will serve as a memorable backdrop to the daily life of campus.
Keough Plaza extends the footprint of Creighton’s oldest building — Creighton Hall, built in 1878 — as a signature space on the campus Mall. The renovations have made an already iconic area of campus even more inviting to students, faculty, alumni and guests, Fr. Hendrickson said.
Despite the many exciting changes that have come to campus over the years, Kathy Soto said this is still unquestionably the same Creighton that shaped the lives and values of her late father, her husband and herself.
“This part of 24th Street is a vital connection point and a symbol of Creighton and Omaha’s longtime partnership,” Soto said. “The vision of this space shows just how far the city and University have come together and how bright the future looks for both.”
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