from Benedictine University
The relationship between students and their university does not end at graduation.
More and more, colleges and universities are seeking to keep alumni connected, to provide them with the career resources they will need in the workplace, to create networking opportunities with fellow alumni, and to give them a place to rekindle old memories and make new ones.
The new Alumni Welcome Center will help meet those needs.
Ground was broken on March 2 for the $2.5 million center, which will be anchored by the historic Neff Farmhouse near the College Road entrance on the eastern edge of the school’s Lisle campus.
“The center will house a museum depicting our 125-year history and will be a place where new students can begin their tour of campus and be welcomed,” said Julie Nelligan, director of Alumni Relations. “Graduates can come back to the center, sign a memory book and say good-bye knowing there will always be a place they can come back to for reunions and memories of their time here.”
The 2,700-square foot welcome center will also include event space, offices, restrooms and a conference room. Alumni, parents and students will all be welcome to utilize the center and take advantage of some of the resources that will be made available there.
The Neff farmhouse, one of the oldest stone structures in DuPage County and which until recently had been used as a home by the school’s retired caretaker, will be incorporated into the center.
“We want to preserve the integrity of the structure as much as we can,” said Chad Treisch, executive director of Campus Planning, Design and Construction Management. “We are even bringing in stone from a quarry in Illinois that matches the exterior of the existing building.”
Outside the historic farmhouse, a crowd made up of University and public officials including Benedictine University President William Carroll, Lisle Mayor Joseph Broda, University Board of Trustees Chair Will Gillet and State Rep. Michael Connelly of Naperville, reflected on the history and future use of the site.
“Today we’re going to start a process of transforming this site and this building into a very special place,” said William J. Carroll, Ph.D., president of Benedictine University. “In the last 70 years the University has gone from St. Procopius College, Illinois Benedictine College and now Benedictine University, and in all that time there’s really only one building that has stayed true to all those names, and that’s the Neff farmhouse.
“In a sense, the alumni are the beginning, the middle and the end of the institution, they are what we are about,” Carroll said. “This is their home and in a real sense we’re only as good as our alumni and it’s a place to say, ‘Hey, we celebrate you when you come in. You are special, and stop here at the Neff Farmhouse’.”
Mayor Joseph Broda said he was glad to see the building be preserved.
“This is one of the oldest buildings in Dupage County,” Mayor Joseph Broda said. “It’s a great historical site and I’m glad we’re maintaining it. We often forget about our history, and this will allow us to maintain our history and understand what the monks did more than 100 years ago. It’s a piece of history that will maintain with the University forever now.
DLR Group is the architect on the project and International Contractors, Inc. is the builder.