When North Central College moved to Naperville and built Old Main in 1871, it showed hope for what the institution could become. And today in 2011, that vision is being realized.
Cornerstone Week kicks off a yearlong celebration of the school’s sesquicentennial, giving Naperville and North Central students and faculty a chance to look back.
“The town of Naperville has changed dramatically over the last 150 years and has grown to be one of the largest communities in the state,” said Ann Durkin Keating, Ph.D., professor of history at North Central College. “[The school] has grown right alongside of it.”
Cornerstone Week began by celebrating the school’s academic achievements with Honors Day. Students presented research projects at the 14th annual Rall Symposium. Many others were awarded for being the best in their specific department at the 35th annual Honors Convocation. Among those awarded were Joshua Bailey and Angie Snodgrass—this year’s Outstanding Senior Man and Woman.
Madden Theatre was the venue for a premiere of the first part of a five part documentary looking back at the history of North Central College, produced by NCTV17.
But North Central College is also looking towards the future. Plans were presented for upcoming beautification projects in conjunction with Naperville’s Riverwalk, including the addition of a gateway into the college from Fredenhagen Park.
“We’ll have a beautiful plaza area, a brick area and benches,” said Rick Spencer, Vice President for Institutional Advancement for North Central College. “That will be an entryway for people to walk all the way through the campus…which we’re going to call the Sesquicentennial Walkway.”
That walkway enhances a popular alleyway that many students use to get from one part of the campus to another.
When Wentz Concert Hall was built in 2008, it took $30 million worth of donor money to complete the project. The Riverwalk Gateway and Sesquicentennial Walkway will cost about $4.5 million—all money again being sought from private donors.
Work on the Riverwalk Gateway will get underway this summer and finish before next school year, while the Sesquicentennial Walkway is estimated to be completed by the summer of 2012.
“They’re doing a lot with the place and it’s really going to start picking up in the next few months,” said Brett Hulett, a senior at North Central College. “It’s exciting.”
During Homecoming on November 11th, the college will celebrate the anniversary of its first classes in Old Main. The celebration includes a reunion of alumni from all classes and those in the community, showing that both the school and Naperville have prospered together.
With 150 years in the history books and a bright future ahead, it truly is a promising start.
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