Benefitting from philanthropic support, the University of Central Missouri’s Board of Governors recently took a significant step toward achieving UCM’s vision for a state-of-the-art airport terminal and flight education center at Max B. Swisher Skyhaven Airport.

On Oct. 22 the board approved the award of a contract to Kansas City firm McCownGordon, to serve as the professional design-build team to erect a 10,000-square-foot terminal building that helps meet community and campus aviation needs. The $2.8 million total project budget is being funded entirely from private gifts through the UCM Alumni Foundation.

“This is an important milestone for UCM. It’s going to greatly enhance our efforts to provide a facility that meets the educational needs of our many students enrolled in UCM aviation programs, and also significantly upgrades our airport as a valuable regional economic development asset,” said Roger Best, UCM president. “We owe a debt of gratitude to our donors who have given funds specifically for improvements at Skyhaven Airport."

As the design-build team, McCownGordon will provide all labor, materials and provisions necessary to produce conceptual designs, final design and construction documents for this project which is expected to take about 465 days, of which 270 days are designated for actual construction. The design phase is expected to begin this fall, according to Tim Castilaw, UCM associate vice president for Capital Planning and Facilities Management.

Castilaw said the facility will be built at the northeast corner of the airport, near the new
taxiway. Part of a multiphase master plan for improvements, the building will be constructed so that a portion of its interior will be left unfinished to accommodate future growth within the aviation program. McCownGordon will create a facility that includes a new airport operations center, pilots’ lounge area, restrooms, dispatch room, and classroom space. Major gifts, including a lead gift from Lynn and Jackie Harmon, Warrensburg, are making this project possible.

“This new aviation terminal has long been a dream which is now being made possible through generous donations to the UCM Alumni Foundation,” said Courtney Goddard, vice president for University Advancement and executive director of the UCM Alumni Foundation. “We are enormously grateful to Lynn and Jackie Harmon and the Sunderland Foundation, which provided instrumental support for the terminal, as well as to several other private donors who made this project a reality. This terminal is a prime example of the transformation made possible by philanthropy directed toward higher education."

UCM is the only public university in Missouri, and one of only a few in the nation, to own and operate a general aviation airport. Skyhaven Airport was donated to UCM in the 1960s by local businessman Max B. Swisher and his family. From that generous donation grew the UCM School of Aviation, which currently serves nearly 350 students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in one of four undergraduate programs or a master’s degree in aviation safety.

Contributing to its status as a local economic engine, regional pilots lease hangar space for private or corporate aircraft at Skyhaven Airport. Pilots also land at the airport to fuel up, use maintenance facilities or head into Warrensburg for dining, entertainment or an overnight stay. The new terminal will welcome members of corporate America to Warrensburg and Johnson County to consider their next expansion or relocation. Arriving pilots and crew will also experience a comfortable, relaxing lounge with information and resources to plan their return flight.

“We are all excited about the possibilities a new facility will provide to our students and are looking forward to its completion,” said Matthew Furedy, chair of UCM’s School of Aviation.

The School of Aviation is part of the Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies (HCBPS). Jose Mercado, HCBPS dean, said the college was excited to learn that the university’s governing board approved the design/build team to construct a new state-of-the-art aviation center/

“This project will renew our School of Aviation’s current capabilities and support the future growth of our programs,” Mercado said. “Our aviation academic programs provide students the knowledge and skills necessary to become successful pilots and aviation professionals, and this project will help us develop and build the adequate infrastructure we need to meet future aviation educational challenges and enhance regional economic development."

Mercado also expressed his gratitude to School of Aviation “friends and supporters” – the donors who are making this and other projects at the airport possible through their generosity.

Consistent with the airport master plan, the university is continuing to work through the UCM Alumni Foundation to raise funds for additional airport renovation. Learn more by contacting Courtney Goddard, vice president for University Advancement, executive director of the UCM Alumni Foundation, at

In the photo: A poster rendering provides a glimpse of what the new terminal at the University of Central Missouri’s Max B. Swisher Skyhaven Airport may look like when constructed.

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