North Central College - Naperville, IL

North Central College breaks ground on Riverwalk Gateway during Cornerstone Picnic

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Pat '63 and Jim Bambule ’63, from left, talk with Benna and Hal Wilde and Rick S
Pat '63 and Jim Bambule ’63, from left, talk with Benna and Hal Wilde and Rick Spencer at the Riverwalk Gateway groundbreaking.

More than 2,300 people shared lunch May 18 at North Central College’s Cornerstone Picnic, which included a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Riverwalk Gateway project.

Community members joined students, faculty and staff for a “Foods of Naperville” featuring complimentary menu samples from more than a dozen Naperville restaurants. Entertainment was provided by student performers—including a jazz ensemble, cast members from an upcoming production of “Forever Plaid” and the “NCC Express” group of singers and dancers.

Officials from the City of Naperville, Naperville Park District, Naperville Riverwalk Commission and Naperville Riverwalk Foundation joined College leaders in a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Riverwalk Gateway—part of the College’s Sesquicentennial Legacy Project—which will improve pedestrian access and beautify the campus for the enjoyment of the community.

“This day is about College and community partnership,” said Rick Spencer, the College’s Vice President for Institutional Advancement.

Speakers including Naperville Mayor A. George Pradel, Riverwalk Commission Chairman Jeff Havel and Riverwalk Foundation President Karen Solomon said the Riverwalk Gateway will enhance the connection between the College and Naperville’s Fredenhagen Park.

“This is a special part of Naperville,” Soloman said. “This is an area where we have a lot of celebrations for the community,” including high school track and field meets and football games at the College’s Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium.

Funding for the Riverwalk Gateway improvements comes from many sources, including a grant from the State of Illinois’ Independent Colleges Capital Program, the North Central College senior gifts from the classes of 2004 and 2012, and a pledge of $500,000 from James A. Bambule ’63 and Patricia Carole Brady Bambule ’63. They want their classmates to become the first class to pledge $10 million in gifts to mark their 50th reunion in 2013.

“We have North Central College in our will, but my message to my classmates is, ‘Let’s do it while we’re still here,’” Jim Bambule said.

North Central College President Harold Wilde thanked the Bambules for their gift.

“The Riverwalk Gateway will be a permanent legacy on this campus,” he said.

Restaurants participating in the Cornerstone Picnic included Chartwells—the College’s foodservice provider—Bangkok Village, Belgio’s Catering, Café Buonaro’s, Catch 35, Eddie Merlot’s, Heaven on Seven, Kernel Fabyan’s Gourmet Popcorn, Kuma’s Asian Bistro, Raffi’s on 5th, Sullivan’s Steakhouse, Tasso’s Greek Cuisine and Ted’s Montana Grill.

The Riverwalk Gateway will include a landscaped pathway along the east bank of the West Branch of the DuPage River next to Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium. Brick pillars designating the area as an entrance to North Central College will be installed near Fredenhagen Park as part of the project. Work on the Riverwalk Gateway will begin in June.

Cornerstone Day commemorates the College’s 1870 move to Naperville. The College’s yearlong Sesquicentennial Celebration—marking 150 years since classes were first held on Nov. 11, 1861—concludes with Commencement on June 9. Visit for more information.