A Seamless Entry

For over 150 years, North Central College and the city of Naperville have been a part of one another, and now there is a landscaped pathway marking their history.

Just before the Homecoming football game, a crowd gathered at the edge of North Central’s campus where it meets Fredenhagen Park for the dedication ceremony of the Riverwalk Gateway.

The Riverwalk Commission’s president, Karen Solomon, spoke at the event. “I’m thrilled to stand here and look both ways, looking towards downtown Naperville and looking back to the college. It’s a beautiful, beautiful space,” said Solomon.

This Homecoming is the last under the tenure of President Hal Wilde, as he is set to retire in December. “Like the river walk that grew out of Naperville’s sesquicentennial, a permanent legacy and reminder of the unique heritage that has so long defined the character of this community and this college,” said Wilde.

The construction of the stone pillars and brick pathway was made possible through a partnership between North Central College, the Naperville Park District, the Riverwalk Foundation, and the Naperville Riverwalk Commission.

But the funding for it was collaboration between the college and the community as part of the legacy project, an effort to strengthen the bond between students and alumni.

Jim Bambule met his wife, Pat, at NCC nearly 50-years ago. The two from the class of 1963 chose to come to North Central because they felt the college spoke to them, and their decision to give back was an easy one.

“The day before groundbreaking, Jim and Pat called saying they wanted to make a significant contribution and they donate a half a million dollars,” said Rick Spencer, Vice President of Institutional Advancement at North Central College.

Bambule told the crowd he and his wife had lived in Naperville for nearly thirty years, and when they received the brochure about the gateway project they knew they wanted to be involved. “It was Naperville, it was North Central. It was the Riverwalk, and it started to whisper again,” Jim said.

The last part of the 150th birthday celebration is the addition of the Sesquicentennial Walkway a footpath that will run through the heart of campus at Benton and Jefferson avenues.

“There is more to be done, and it will be done. It will be the last stage of our commemoration of the college’s sesquicentennial. And our proud linkage to the city of Naperville,” said President Wilde.

Illinois State Senator, Kirk Dillard made an appearance for the ribbon cutting. He said, “this is just one more indication why DuPage County is a quality place to live to be educated and to have your business so enjoy it, and go Cardinals!”

The Sesquicentennial Walkway will be complete in December.

The Riverwalk Gateway at North Central College is one more addition to the town’s crown jewel that extends for almost two miles along the west branch of the DuPage River.


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